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Numminen's Career in Question with heart condition

Friday, 03.19.2004 / 11:00 PM CT / News
Dallas Stars
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Numminen\'s Career in Question with heart condition



March 20, 2004

By J. Douglas Foster

Glenn James
Teppo Numminen's long, distinguished hockey career hangs in the balance.

The Stars' 35-year-old defenseman was diagnosed with a dilated aorta (the largest artery leaving the heart) Friday, which has him out indefinitely and uncertain about whether or not he will ever play the game of hockey again.

The good news, according to team internist Dr. John C. Brooks, is that Numminen should have a normal, healthy life if he decides not to return to the game. The only question is whether or not playing hockey would jeopardize his condition, which they won't know for some time until Numminen undergoes more tests.

"He's perfectly medically stable," Brooks said.

"The issue is whether he can play hockey safely, but he is in no immediate danger right now."

Brooks also said Numminen has had a heart valve problem for some time, one that started with a heart murmur during his childhood years.

His current condition became apparent during Thursday's game against Vancouver in which Numminen noticed an accelerated heartbeat. Numminen underwent tests late Thursday night, and then on Friday doctors found the dilation following an eco-cardiogram, which is essentially a sonogram of the heart.

At that point, Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong talked with Numminen about his future.

"He was certainly shaken, as anyone would be to get information like this," Armstrong said. "This morning (Saturday) we spoke and his spirits were better."

Armstrong also said Numminen's hockey future was a much lower priority for himself, team owner Tom Hicks and the Stars' organization than his simply being healthy.

"Our thoughts first and foremost are with Teppo and his family," Armstrong said. "This may affect his hockey career, but to me that's very secondary to the rest of his life."

Brooks said Numminen may require surgery "at some point and time" to repair the dilated aorta, but that it wasn't in his immediate future. He also said Numminen's condition was "a very common finding," and that the concern with Numminen's career was the potential for taking a blow to the chest, especially during a time of an increased heart rate because of intense skating.

Numminen has removed himself from the team indefinitely, though he did see a few of his teammates Saturday morning prior to their game against the St. Louis Blues. He will not travel with the squad on next week's trip, and will await more tests in the coming weeks, Brooks said, to see if a return to the game is possible.

Because of the recent trade acquisition of Chris Therien and free-agent signing of Lubomir Sekeras, who is expected to be in Dallas Saturday afternoon, Armstrong said the team would not have to make any call-ups from Utah to fill Numminen's spot at the present time.

Numminen's 1,157 games ranks as the second most by any player born outside of North America, trailing only fellow Finn Jari Kurri, who played in 1,251 games. His career NHL scoring of 111 goals and 439 assists for 550 points rank him fifth among European defensemen in all-time points, behind only Borje Salming, Nicklas Lidstrom, Fredrik Olausson, and Dallas teammate Sergei Zubov. This season, the Tampere, Finland, native appeared in 59 games for the Stars, scoring 16 points (three goals, 13 assists). He was acquired from Phoenix in exchange for Mike Sillinger on July 22, 2003 after serving as the Coyotes' captain.

 

Stars fans can send Numminen get well wishes via e-mail. The address is GetWellSoon@dallasstars.com

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79
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