In three weeks from now the Buffalo Sabres will take the ice for the start of training camp and it will mark the beginning of the 19th season for Teppo Numminen. Depending on how things turn out this season it could mark the last season for Teppo Numminen. Numminen was drafted all the way back in 1986 and will take the ice for the Sabres in the 2007-2008 season. The Sabres are aware of the leadership that Numminen brings and welcomed him back with open arms.
Numminen has lost a step on the ice but still plays the role of a solid defenseman at the age of 39. His offensive production is down from his days with the Phoenix Coyotes but he remains a solid defenseman. In two seasons with the Sabres, Numminen has 70 points in 154 games and is a plus 23, including plus 17 in 2006-2007. Although he may have lost a step physically he is able to make that up by playing solid defense and always knowing where to be on the ice.
The real importance of Numminen this season will be his leadership. The Sabres were the only team to have two captains last season and with the departure of both that created a leadership void that needs to be replaced. I'm sure Teppo will play a large role in filling that leadership void on a team that will be looking for direction. It's easy to say that an older player should be the leader because of age but in the case of Numminen he is a proven leader. He captained the Phoenix Coyotes from 2001-2003, a role he maintained until leaving Phoenix for Dallas in 2003.
In addition to his solid defensive play he will be asked to help guys like Henrik Tallinder, Brian Campbell, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek learn to be leaders and not just great players. His importance to this team can not be over looked not only on the ice but especially off the ice. The question is will be the next captain or will he help someone else learn that role.