Numminen, in need of heart surgery, suspended

Updated: September 14, 2007, 10:04 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen needs a third surgery to correct a heart condition.

Teppo Numminen

Numminen

The Sabres suspended Numminen in a move apparently designed to protect the team's financial investment, The Buffalo News reported.

It's not known when Numminen, who's consulting with team physicians, will have the procedure and how much time he will miss. The 39-year-old did not report for team physicals Thursday.

"After undergoing examination in connection with his preseason evaluation, the Buffalo Sabres medical team has determined that [Numminen] requires surgery to correct a cardiac condition," general manager Darcy Regier said in a statement.

The NHL players union confirmed that Numminen had been suspended without pay for failing to report to camp in adequate physical condition. "We are currently reviewing this matter," NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said, according to the newspaper.

Regier told the News that Numminen's $2.6 million, one-year guaranteed contract was not insured, meaning the club would be responsible for the entire amount had it not suspended him.

"My reaction? It's not high on my list of things to worry about right now," Numminen told the newspaper.

Numminen, the team's alternate captain this past season, has already had two heart surgeries for an irregular heartbeat, including one in the summer of 2006 after the condition forced him to miss one game and part of another during a playoff series against Philadelphia. Regier said this third surgery will be different from the two previous.

A native of Finland, Numminen has had a heart murmur since childhood and was diagnosed with a dilated aorta in March 2004 when he was with the Dallas Stars. He missed five games because of the condition before being cleared to play.

Numminen finished with 29 points in 79 games last season.

"It's early in the process," Regier said. "We'll move along at his schedule and see where he goes with it and what he wants to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.