Finnish Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Teppo Numminen gained a well-earned reputation as the "iron man" of the NHL. When Philadelphia center Rod Brind'Amour missed his team's home opener of the 1999-00 season, Numminen became the league's new leader in consecutive games played, not having missed once since December 15, 1995. He'd compiled three consecutive seasons without missing a game and 1998-99 was the fifth time in his NHL career that he'd gone all season without missing one.
But the "iron man" streak was only one aspect of Numminen's game. He also played in the 1999 All-Star Game, starting on the World Team, and led the entire Phoenix defensive corps in goals, assists and points. Numminen, who had spent his entire NHL career with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, entered the league in 1988 after spending several seasons with the Finnish league team Tappara. The Jets selected him in the second round and 29th overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft and he eventually broke the team record for career points by a defenseman.
Establishing marks for consecutive games played, Numminen was a perennial leader on the Coyotes in the average minutes per game category. In other words, he not only plays in all of his team's games, he gets plenty of ice time as well. As a kid growing up in Tampere, Numminen followed the exploits of his hometown team while casting an eye overseas to his NHL idol, Bobby Orr. But he never really entertained thoughts of a career in North America.
The chance paid off, especially for Winnipeg/Phoenix, which has kept Numminen for his entire NHL career. As a longtime member of the franchise, Numminen has been able to compare life in two disparate cities, especially given their varied climate and geographical location.
But as well as having played for the Jets/Coyotes in North America, Numminen also represented Finland in the 1988 Olympics. Numminen has also been active in hockey off the ice. In the mid-1990s, he and his brother and a friend bought a hockey stick company in Montreal.
Numminen's international career has seen him represent his homeland on numerous occasions which include, six World Championships (1987, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2004), four Olympic Games (1988, 1998, 2002 and 2006), one World Junior Championship (1988), one Canada Cup (1991) and two World Cups (1996 and 2004).
During the 2002-03 season, Numminen surpassed the 1,000 games played plateau and in the summer of 2003 was dealt to the Dallas Stars where he went on to play one season before being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres in the summer of 2005.