The preseason is now 27 days away from first puckdrop and the countdown of the greatest to wear a sweater number in Coyotes history finds itself looking to seek the best 27. This isn't to much of a challenge. Four players have worn 27 in franchise history but the best is the man who wore it so well, the Coyotes put him in their ring of Honor.
Teppo Numminen was a second round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. He would make his NHL debut against the Vancouver Canucks on October 6, 1988 and he would do so in style scoring a short-handed goal. Teppo would finish his rookie season playing in 69 games for the Jets adding no more goals but 14 assists to finish with 15 points. Numminen would go on to play the next 14 seasons with the Jets/Coyotes franchise. His best season individually was the 1997-98 campaign. He played all 82 games (the first of three straight seasons he would do so) and scored 11 goals and chipped in 40 assists to total 51 points, his second highest total of his career. He also posted a career high +25 rating and had 24 special teams points (22 PP and 2 SH). The Coyotes went 35-35-12 that year finishing sixth in the Western conference and would meet the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Teppo was injured in the first game of the series and would miss the next 5 as Detroit won 4-2.
In his Coyotes career, Teppo played in 1098 games, scoring 108 goals and 534 points. He is currently second on the career Coyotes games played list, trailing only The Captain Shane Doan. He is fifth on the Coyotes all-time points list and 4th on the assists list. Even though he isn't in the top 10 for total goals scored as a Coyote, he is 10th in game winning goals with 19. He was a 3 time All-Star ('99, 2001 and '01) as a Coyote and played in the '88, '98 and 2002 Olympics for team Finland. He played in 50 playoff games for the franchise scoring 8 goals and 16 points but unfortunately he never advanced out of the first round while playing for the Jets/Coyotes.
Teppo was traded following a disappointing 2002-03 season for the franchise even though Numminen was his usual steady self scoring 30 points in 78 games. He was dealt to division rival Dallas for Mike Sillinger. Teppo would spend one season in Dallas before signing a free agent deal with the Buffalo Sabres in 2005. Teppo would play 2 effective seasons for the Sabres and reached an important milestone playing in his 1252 career game on November 13, 2006, passing Jari Kurri for most NHL games played by an European trained player (Numminen's record would later be passed by Nicklas Lidstrom). He would enjoy extended success in the post-season for the only times in his career in those two seasons as well, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in both years. Unfortunately for him and for the game of hockey, the summer of 2007 was not a happy one for Teppo as it was discovered he had a faulty valve in his heart. He would have open heart surgery on September 20, 2007 with fears it would end his career. But Numminen persevered and would play one game in the 2007-08 season, returning to the ice for the Sabres on April 5, 2008 against Boston playing 16:03. Teppo would play another year Buffalo before retiring on August 5, 2009.
Numminen was a steady, reliable and smart defensemen who had a fantastic instinct for the game of hockey. He was an important part of the glory days of the Original Coyotes and the party atmosphere that was created at then America West Arena. Teppo was such an integral Coyote, he was inducted to the Coyotes Ring of Honor on January 30, 2010. No Coyote will ever wear 27 again, and rightfully so. Congratulations Teppo, you are the greatest number 27 in Coyote history.