Sabres' Numminen hopes to return to ice this season after open-heart surgery

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen had successful open heart surgery Thursday to repair a faulty valve and
hopes to be back on the ice within three months.

"There were no complications," Sabres doctor William Hartrich said after speaking to the surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic. "Teppo is resting comfortably and will remain in the hospital for the next
several days."

Numminen learned he required surgery after a routine checkup in Cleveland earlier this month. Barring complications in his
recovery, the 39-year-old player is eyeing a return to the lineup
as soon as December he said before the operation.

The 18-year NHL veteran added that doctors said he would be able to continue living a normal life.

The Finnish player has had a heart murmur since childhood and was diagnosed with a dilated aorta in March 2004 when he was
playing for the Dallas Stars. Numminen missed five games because of
the condition before he was cleared to play.

The condition also forced him to miss one game and part of
another during a playoff series against Philadelphia in the spring of 2006.

Numminen said he's had two "procedures" to alleviate the
problem, but noted this time it's different. He said doctors would
work on his heart by opening his rib cage.

Saying they're following league guidelines, the Sabres suspended Numminen without pay because of his health. Numminen signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract with the Sabres in July.