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Second, Third and Fourth opinions bring Numminen back

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

March 30, 2004

By J. Douglas Foster

Teppo Numminen knows all about second chances.

He's ready to take his.

Just more than a week after hearing his career may be over because of a dilated aorta, Numminen, after several more opinions from a number of specialists, was cleared to play hockey again and said Monday he expects to play in Wednesday's home game against the Edmonton Oilers.

That's good news for the Stars. Better news for Numminen and his family.

"It's been a tough week," Numminen said of the eight days that have passed since the initial announcement by the Stars that he was out indefinitely. "It was an emotional roller-coaster ride, but we talked to three or four more doctors and they all said the same thing. They are all specialists in the field, and the more information we got the more it helped. It looked a lot better.

"But waiting for the information, that was a long wait."

Fortunately, the more specialists Numminen saw, the better the news got.

He said Monday that he's not in any danger of serious injury, but that he will have to have surgery for his situation "in five or 10 years."

Numminen will also have to monitor his heart condition every six months to a year, which isn't so bad considering the original diagnosis.

Fortunately, that one was a bit off.

"You go through something like that, it's going to change your life," Numminen said. "It's tough to say how, but for sure it changed me. We'll see in the future how much it changed me."

Stars head coach Dave Tippett will certainly welcome Numminen back to his blueline, which has been without Sergei Zubov (charley horse) and Jon Klemm (groin strain) for the last three games.

"We're certainly glad things worked out the way they did," Tippett said. "He's anxious to come back, and obviously we're anxious to have him back. He was playing very well when this situation came up.

"We joked with hi this morning, it's amazing what you have to do to get a week off around here."

On the remainder of the injury front, there's still a question mark as to exactly which Stars might be back against the Oilers.

Right wing Jere Lehtinen skated a bit Monday morning, but his return from back spasms is still in question. Center Stu Barnes, out the last three games with an upper body injury, is probable for Wednesday according to Tippett. Klemm is day-to-day and won't be back before Wednesday, while Zubov did skate Monday after practice. He is also day-to-day, but his return date is still uncertain.

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