Buffalo Sabres Insider App Twitter Facebook

Lexus

A Career That Nearly Ended

Thursday, 11.09.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
Buffalo Sabres
X
Share with your Friends


A Career That Nearly Ended
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen is on the verge of setting a significant milestone in his career and in the NHL. Numminen is just three games shy of surpassing Jari Kurri's all-time record of 1,251 games played by a European trained player. With a pair of games this weekend, Numminen could set a new mark on Monday night in Carolina.

A testament to Numminen's longevity and skill at hockey's highest level, the record has been 19 seasons in the making and nearly never happened thanks to the NHL lockout.

Sitting in his home in Tampere, Finland during the work stoppage two years ago, the Sabres alternate captain contemplated his future. His outlook was rather bleak.

Numminen's then 17-year career teetered on the edge of retirement.

"A couple times during the lockout I actually retired," said Numminen. "I said, 'Ok, that's enough. I'm not going to come back.' I was actually trying to find a reason to quit.

"It was so annoying not to be playing hockey. When you have done this for as long as I have and it gets taken away from you, it's confusing. You just don't want to deal with that type of stuff. I just wanted to walk away but I couldn't find a reason to."

Several other well-known player's careers, such as Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils, Ron Francis of the Carolina Hurricanes and Al MacInnis of the St. Louis Blues, ended with the work stoppage.

But the lockout revived something in Numminen that the defenseman had forgotten. The time away from hockey reignited his fire and desire, and made him grateful for the little things that he enjoyed but didn't notice in the past.

"I started to doubt whether or not I still loved the game," said Numminen. "But when it's taken away from you … you find the answers.

"I missed practices, being at the rink and just playing the game. Even the traveling. You go on the road to the different hotels and have dinner at different restaurants with your friends … that's nice."

After the labor dispute ended, Numminen signed a one-year contract with Buffalo and went on to appear in 75 games during 2005-06. He also made it to the Conference Finals for the first time in his career.

After Buffalo lost to Carolina in Game 7, Numminen began his off-season tradition.

As he did each summer for the last three or four years since injuries began to become a concern, Numminen ran a diagnostic on his season and asked himself the questions that needed to be answered.

How did the season go? What adjustments can I make to be better? What are my weaknesses? Do I still possess a desire to play? Am I ready for another season?

Numminen answered each of those questions with a resounding, yes.

"It was so much fun last season and coming back from the lockout, I was only hoping that I could come back to Buffalo," said Numminen. "I wanted to continue the journey with the guys in this locker room.

"I never thought anything like this [record] would happen to me. I always took my career a year at a time. I guess I was never really that confident that I was going to build a long career.

"It's been a great ride. To do this for this long has been unbelievable."

To hear more from Teppo: CLICK HERE

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82