Numminen files grievance against Sabres for suspending him without pay

Updated: March 20, 2008, 6:06 PM ET
Associated Press

Teppo Numminen

Numminen

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Teppo Numminen filed a grievance against the Buffalo Sabres for suspending him without pay after the veteran defenseman failed a preseason physical because he required open-heart surgery.

The grievance was filed with the NHL Players' Association in November, union spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon told The Associated Press on Thursday.

News of the grievance surfaced as Numminen rejoined the team this week. Numminen had previously declined to discuss whether he was unhappy with the Sabres' decision to place him on their suspended list after it was discovered during a routine physical in September that he required surgery to repair a faulty valve.

An 18-year NHL veteran, Numminen re-signed with the Sabres in July, agreeing to a one-year, $2.6 million contract.

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier said the dispute will be settled between the NHLPA and the NHL. Regier said the team was within its rights to suspend Numminen, because he was physically unable to play in an NHL game, even though he first began practicing with the team on a non-contact basis in December.

Numminen's initial hopes to resume playing ended in early January when doctors ruled he'd be out until mid-March to allow his sternum additional time to heal.

Numminen and his agent, Don Baizley, didn't return messages left by The AP.

Numminen rejoined the Sabres on Thursday, spending the day undergoing a physical evaluation.

Coach Lindy Ruff said Numminen was scheduled to have on-ice testing Friday. Ruff, however, said it was too early to determine when Numminen could play for the Sabres, who have eight games left in the regular season.

Buffalo also is battling for playoff contention, sitting one point behind Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth following the Sabres' 7-4 win against Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Numminen spent the previous two seasons with the Sabres, and spent last year as the team's assistant captain.

"I think the loss of Teppo at the start of the year was a big hit," Regier said. "He's a very good player."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE