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NUMMINEN LOOKS TO MAKE ALL-STAR APPEARANCE

by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Teppo Numminen (photo: Getty Images)
The first time Teppo Numminen played in an NHL All-Star game, Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman were the top two centers on the North American team.


That was in 1999.

Since then, the defenseman has competed in the event twice more- consecutively in 2000 and 2001.

Seven years later, with 18 years of experience under his belt, he looks to participate yet again as he joins teammates Ryan Miller, Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek on the 104-player ballot for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game.

“I’m not surprised whatsoever that he has been chosen. He’s been in the League almost 20 years now and there is a reason for that,” Sabres’ captain Craig Rivet said. “You watch him play and he’s a big part of our success not only because of his presence on the ice but in the dressing room as well. He has a calming influence on a lot of the younger players on the team.”

He is also a source of inspiration for his teammates, after rebounding from heart surgery last season and returning to the lineup at the age of 40 years old.

“After he recovered from it I saw him skate and I knew it wasn’t over,” defenseman Toni Lydman said. “Especially after I saw him play in the final game of the regular season last year it was obvious to me that he would come back. You could tell he just wanted to play so bad. You could see it in his face – he still had that sparkle in his eyes.”

“And he hasn’t missed a beat,” Henrik Tallinder said. “It just doesn’t matter for him. He absolutely deserves it and you just wish him all of the success in the world.”

Numminen has experienced plenty. He has recorded a total of 116 goals and 510 assists in his NHL tenure. Now in his third season with the Sabres, he has registered six points (1+5) through 14 games.

On Nov. 13, 2006, Numminen played his 1,252nd game to break the mark set by Hall of Famer Jarri Kurri and currently has played in 1,329 NHL games.

“The thing with Teppo is that he’s a very quiet player. You don’t really realize how good he is until you get to see him every day in practice,” Rivet said. “Even now I’m amazed at how smooth he is and his vision on the ice. He makes things look very easy when they’re not.

“He is a fantastic player and an even better person.”

“It’s a great celebration of hockey and always exciting to be a part of it,” Numminen said of the All-Star game. “It’s a great honor just to be on that list.”

Voting is open now. Click here to cast your vote

In a first for all major professional sports leagues, the NHL will provide real-time All-Star fan balloting results online at NHL.com. From Nov. 12 through Jan. 2, NHL fans will be able to vote as often as they like to select the starting lineups for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.

Fans around the world can vote online via interactive English and French ballots at Vote.NHL.com. Those in the U.S. and Canada also will be able to cast their votes via text message using any wireless carrier. During the voting period, real-time results will be available exclusively on Vote.NHL.com/results. This marks the third consecutive year the All-Star Balloting process is entirely digital.

Fans can vote for up to six Eastern Conference players and six Western Conference players: three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender. For the first time, fans will be permitted to select as few as one player -- a balloted player or write-in -- per online ballot at Vote.NHL.com or via text message.

The three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender from each Conference receiving the most votes will comprise the starting lineups. Each of the 30 NHL clubs has at least two representatives on the ballot.

"He’s been solid," Lydman said of Numminen. "I just want to tell everybody to vote for him and get him into that starting lineup."
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