The NHL’s mumps ‘Team Zero’ is clear and obvious to Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin.
“I tell everybody who said the mumps started in Anaheim, if you look back from where players started missing games the first team that had some kind of the flu was the St. Louis Blues,” Beauchemin said via phone. “They had (a bunch of) guys that had what they called a ‘bacterial infection.’ They probably didn’t know they had the mumps but my guess is that’s probably what they had. Then Minnesota got it then we got it.”
Keep in mind, there is possibly credence to Beauchemin’s statement. The Blues have been really mumpy … I mean shady about how a bunch of their players had a mysterious bacterial infection on their team before without definitively saying what it was. In fact, they still haven't.
There was even some weird drama about the Centers for Disease Control being at Scottrade Center, until the team denied it.
Generally where there's smoke there's fire ... but whatever.
Regardless, if the Blues, or the Ducks or the Minnesota Wild, their players or any other team had any clue about the mumps, a virus that only afflicted 584 people in the United States last year, could the outbreak have been stopped before it even started?
“I never really knew what the mumps was until I got them. I never really heard about it,” Beauchemin said.
So far we haven’t seen any Jenny McCarthy/Kristin Cavallari reason as to why a player wouldn’t get a booster vaccine. For example, Wild defenseman and mumps survivor Ryan Suter just went with the hand washing method, which failed.
“Everybody got the shots on our team, and I’m like ‘I don’t need to get the shot. I think I’ll be all right. I wash my hands a lot. I’m a clean guy,’” he said. “So everybody got it except for me. And of course, two weeks ago I get the mumps.”
But in a league with a players association that has to put visors to a vote, can you really force a player to have a team stick a needle in him? Even if it has a reported 88 percent chance of stopping this illness? This complicates the matter somewhat.
“I don’t know. Everybody has a different view on that stuff with flu shots or whatever,” Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton said.
With the news that Pens defenseman Olli Maatta has the mumps, that brings 16 confirmed, public cases to the NHL.
Adam Larsson said the mumps were the low point in his 22-year-old life.
“It came right away for me. My face started growing and the fever came at night. Those four days were probably the worst days in my life so far. It was really bad at one point. I couldn’t eat or anything. I’m glad to be back. I just have to work my energy level up a little bit to where I can play.”
Ack, that sounds horrible.
The NHLPA responded with the below statement from spokesperson Jonathan Weatherdon via email, when asked if the association had sent out or pushed any measures to lessen the mumps spread.
“The NHL/NHLPA’s joint infection control subcommittee has been following the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations on managing mumps outbreaks. We continue to educate the players on best practices to avoid contracting and spreading mumps.”
When asked if mumps vaccines are mandatory, the answer from the PA was that vaccinations were “available, but not mandatory.”
In this regard, pressure may have to come internally from other players. Suter, who said he was vaccinated as a child like most players from North America, indicated that he felt remorse for not taking the shot, since it knocked him out and may have infected others.
In a lot of ways, it’s no different than a sick co-worker who tries to tough it out, and then infects the entire office.
Beauchemin believes others should take the vaccine, simply so they won’t have to go through the pain he felt.
“It is everybody’s choice, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t do it,” he said. “You’re better off feeling a little under the weather for a couple of days, than getting a fever putting you down for a couple of weeks.”
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