Numminen suspended for heart ailment
To make matters worse, Numminen learned Thursday night the Sabres had suspended him for failing to report to camp in good physical condition, a move the team declined to announce publicly.
“The NHLPA was notified today that the Buffalo Sabres have elected to suspend Teppo Numminen without pay,” NHL Players Association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon told The Buffalo News. “We are currently reviewing this matter.”
It's difficult at first glance to discern why the Sabres would even feel the need for this move, especially given that salaries don't start counting against the cap until the first game of the season. There is, however, more to this story than Numminen's heart surgery, as the contract wasn't insured given his previous health problems and Buffalo would be on the hook for the full dollar amount had he been placed on the long-term injury reserve.
Even still, the NHL's really going to need some allowances in the CBA for serious ailments, or it's only a matter of time before we see "Deceased NHLer suspended without pay" in the headlines.
Barring an agreement between the team and player regarding his condition, I believe Numminen should see his money, insurance payout or not. It seems incredibly cold that he's facing potentially life-threatening surgery and his contract being voided.
UPDATE Numminen's surgery is now being described as repairs to a heart valve, with the recovery time set at six weeks. He has said he would like to continue to play after the procedure.
UPDATE One tidbit from the collective bargaining agreement that may be of relevance here: "For any other Player who fails the Club's initial physical examination in any League Year, or is injured, ill or disabled while not on the Club's Active Roster, he shall not be eligible for, and may not be placed on, Injured Reserve, but instead shall be eligible to be, and may be designated as, Injured Non-Roster."
I wasn't able to find any documentation relating to suspensions and illness, however.
UPDATE This is taken from the Standard Player Contract:
5.(b) If the Player, in the judgment of the Club's physician, is disabled or is not in good physical condition at the commencement of the season or at any subsequent time during the season (unless such condition is the direct result of any injury sustained during the course of his employment as a hockey Player with the Club, including travel with his team or on business requested by the Club) so as to render him unfit to play skilled hockey, then it is mutually agreed that the Club shall have the right to suspend the Player for such period of disability or unfitness, and no compensation shall be payable for that period under this SPC.
Even so, I expect the NHLPA to grieve this suspension in Numminen's case. The provision above is clearly established as a measure to protect clubs against players reporting out of shape or as the result of non-hockey injuries, and I'm not certain that applies to a longstanding heart ailment.
UPDATE The Buffalo News has comments from Sabres GM Darcy Regier on the situation.
>> FanHouse: Numminen Suspended for Inadequate Conditioning