BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen's season is likely over after finding out he'll need an additional two months to recover after having open-heart surgery to repair a faulty valve.
Stressing that his heart is fine, Numminen told The Associated Press on Wednesday that doctors said he'll require additional time off to allow his sternum to heal. Numminen learned the news Tuesday after Sabres doctors consulted with doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, where the player had the operation in September.
The news came as a shock to Numminen, who spent the past month practicing with the team and was preparing to return to action within one or two weeks.
``It's always disappointing. Things were going really well, I was getting into good shape and your mind to a point where you'll be playing again,'' Numminen said. ``Now you're just kind of floating and floating and wondering what happened and where to go from here.''
The new prognosis came after doctors studied the player's latest test results after Numminen went to Cleveland for a checkup last week. Doctors ruled Numminen should be out for six months after surgery before being cleared for contact.
That timetable means Numminen wouldn't be able to return until mid-March at the earliest. Barring playoffs, the Sabres close the regular season at Boston on April 5.
Acknowledging that he might not play this season, the 39-year-old said he is still open to playing next year.
The operation was required after a problem was discovered during a routine checkup before Numminen was preparing to report to training camp for his 19th NHL season, and third with Buffalo.
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 2006.
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