According to the NHL’s website, Teppo Numminen has been cleared to play again after having open heart surgery last year. Teppo was a part of our team in 2003-04 and he was one of the hardest working and nicest guys I’ve ever met. I was at practice the day he was diagnosed with a dilated aorta, and he stopped to pose for pictures and signed autographs even though he had to be way nervous about going to the doctor after practice. I remember he parked in the public area of the parking lot, and he nicely parted the crowd to get to his car.
I say all this because I think the Sabres treated a great player and a great person very poorly. They suspended him without pay for the time while he was out. This was just a few weeks after they announced he would be captain for the 2007-08 season.
I know that the bottom line is hockey is a business, and the players often pay for this. Teppo, a steady defenseman who showed heart and grit for every team he’s played for, deserved far more than what he got from the Sabres management.
He’ll be a free agent this summer, and any team would be lucky to pick him up.