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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
(Editor's Note:  Darcy Regier is currently in his 11th year as General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres. He has led the franchise through some of its finest seasons – including the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances the last two seasons – while also managing the team through its most difficult times. 

Regier spoke with media on Thursday regarding Teppo Numminen's return to the Sabres after recovering from heart surgery in late September.)

What is Teppo Numminen's current status?

"He's cleared to practice with the team.  Based on what I watched out there, he looked pretty good, so it's a good start.  We're excited and I think he's excited."

Has he made the decision whether or not to continue his career?

"I think it's something that will progress and is personal to him.  Certainly, we're moving forward at this point."

From a team standpoint, does he stay suspended until he can return to the lineup on a full-time basis?

"We will reinstate him at a time when he's cleared to play in NHL games.  I don't know what that time frame will be.  He'll have a lot to say about it.  The doctors will obviously have the most to say about it. We'll go with that timeline."

When you say he's cleared, is it your doctors or is it the Cleveland Clinic's doctors that made that decision?

"Ultimately, it's our doctors that make that decision.  But certainly, the Cleveland Clinic doctors will have the bulk of the say as it relates to his condition."

Do you have a general idea of how many months the recovery process could take?

"I don't think it's months.  I think we're talking in terms of weeks. As far as his conditioning, I spoke with Doug McKenny, who is our strength and conditioning coach, and Teppo is in good shape.  He's never been a muscle man.  His game is about smarts, intelligence, good feet, good hands and a good head."

With such a youthful locker room, what does it do for your team to have Teppo back?

"I think it does a lot.  On the expectations and hopes that he is able to come back and decides to play, certainly, today is a big step towards that.  I think it's very meaningful.  He's meant a lot to this hockey club over the last few years."

Is it a plus that Teppo will not have played 82 games by the end of the season?  Will he be fresher at the end of the year?

"I think he will.  He's a very youthful guy anyways. I don't know that I've come into contact with a more unique individual or athlete.  I think he's very special in that regard."

It's been indicated that the team might have missed him more than the loss of the two captains over the summer.  Thoughts on that statement?

"I know we miss him a lot.  If you look at our backend, we have a lot of puck movers and a lot of offense.  Teppo brings a wealth of experience and stability.  I think he definitely impacts our defense with regard to stabilizing and settling things down.  Now certainly, not have [Henrik] Tallinder and Dmitri [Kalinin] in the lineup contributes to that too.  I've thought that the guys we've had in there have done a good job, but it's not the same.  We're certainly better with those three guys as well."

What are the salary cap implications when Numminen returns?

"That's something that we'll access as we move along.  We'll certainly have a lot of numbers, assuming the players get healthy and stay healthy.  That's always a big part of your defense."

Does his full salary go against the cap or will it be prorated when he returns?

"I think it will be just the prorated portion."
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