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Associated Press
6/29/2006 4:39:28 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo Sabres defenceman Teppo Numminen had surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat this week, his agent said Thursday.

Don Baizley also said Numminen is in negotiations to re-sign with the team.
Numminen had surgery at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday and is currently travelling to his native Finland after being cleared by doctors the following day, Baizley said.

The surgery was anticipated after the heart condition, which isn't considered life-threatening, forced Numminen to miss one game and part of another during Buffalo's first-round playoff series against Philadelphia. Numminen returned to the lineup and appeared in the next eight games before a hip-flexor injury sidelined him for five of the team's last six games of the Eastern Conference final against Carolina.

Numminen, who has had a heart murmur since childhood, was diagnosed with a dilated aorta in March 2004 when he was with the Dallas Stars. He missed five games because of the condition before being cleared to play.

The 17-year NHL veteran, considered Buffalo's steadiest defenceman, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Saturday.

Baizley said he's hopeful to work out a deal.

"We've had talks but nothing done at this moment. But we'll have more talks," Baizley said. "(Teppo) likes Buffalo, it's just that we haven't gotten it done, yet."

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier wasn't immediately available for comment but had previously expressed hope to re-sign Numminen, who joined the team as a free agent last summer.

His return would help Buffalo begin addressing its defensive depth. Veteran defencemen Jay McKee and Rory Fitzpatrick are unsigned and expected to test free agency.

Numminen is coming off a strong season in which he finished second among Buffalo defencemen with 40 points (two goals, 38 assists) in 75 games. That marked his most productive year since a 48-point campaign with Phoenix in 2001-02.

He added a goal and assist and averaged nearly 19 minutes of ice time in 12 post-season games, the first time he's been on a team that advanced past the first round of the playoffs.

Numminen ranks second among European players with 1,235 career regular-season NHL games played, 17 short of passing Jari Kurri, a fellow Finn and former Edmonton Oiler great.
 
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