Swine Flu Hits Hockey

  • Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:03 AM
  • Written By: Josh Marks

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Hockey players are supposed to be some of the toughest guys on the planet. I mean when you are from towns such as Moose Jaw, Canada and Moscow, Russia then you are likely to have Superman-like immunity.

However, a recent rash of Swine Flu victims is challenging that notion.

The four cases reported so far have NHL teams scrambling to prevent the H1N1 virus from spreading.

Washington Capitals left wing Quintin Lang joins Edmonton's Ladislav Smid (pictured above), Colorado's Peter Budaj and Doug Weight of the New York Islanders in being diagnosed with the dreaded virus.

The Canadian Press reports that Smid did indeed test positive for the Swine Flu, but the 23-year-old defenseman didn't miss a game and was back on the ice after resting for two days. Other Oilers players have been hit harder by the seasonal flu. The players are taking the initiative to stay away from the rink if they feel sick.

After Avs backup goalie Budaj came down with H1N1, the team put a plan into effect, reports The Denver Post. If a player is diagnosed he will be isolated while preventative medications will be given to his teammates.

Newsday reports that Weight has returned to the Isles lineup following his bout with the Swine Flu, in which he missed three games. Weight chose to isolate himself from his family and teammates while he was recovering.

According to The Washington Post, some of the precautions the Caps are taking include hand sanitizers being placed around their Arlington, Virginia practice facility. But when hockey players share the same locker room, water bottles, equipment, towels, sweat and blood, is it really possible to stop the flu from spreading?

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said the following to the Post's Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir:

"I'm hoping to shake fewer hands. It gets in your hands and fingers, and germs get in your cuticles. Everybody you meet is nice and wants to shake your hand. You don't want to be rude and say no, but . . ."

Injury News Update: The latest injury news comes from Pittsburgh where it was revealed today that Penguins star Evgeni Malkin will be sidelined 2-3 weeks with a strained right shoulder. The loss comes soon after it was announced that defenseman Sergei Gonchar will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist.