Mumps just a small sample of NHL's 'tough guy' problem

Mumps just a small sample of NHL's 'tough guy' problem

We’re going to play a medical game. I’ll say, ‘guess the disease.’ You’re going to read the symptoms? This comes from webmd.com. Ready?

"...Fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite followed by onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears -- on one or both sides)."

Give up? It’s the mumps – which is what had Ducks forward Corey Perry and defenseman Francois Beauchemin isolated recently. Venerable Ducks scribe Eric Stephens caught up with Perry on Thursday, who said that the Anaheim sniper had a fever of 102 degrees from this issue.

Thursday came word from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the Wild’s Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella may have the mumps.

“The two have the same symptoms that sidelined defensemen Keith Ballard (eight games) and Christian Folin (five games) earlier this season. As I reported last week, Ballard was diagnosed with the mumps,” Wild beat reporter Mike Russo wrote.

The story also indicates that Scandella had been sick since Nov. 8 against Montreal.

First and foremost, the mumps is not a violent and dangerous infectious disease with a 25-90 percent death rate (see Ebola). If infected, it’s painful – no question. But it’s not something super majorly deathly to worry about.

But it does require attention, care and the ability of a team’s medical staff to diagnose it early and take the proper steps so it doesn’t ravage through a team’s locker room where fluids can be transferred easily.

“We have an Infectious Disease Subcommittee that works under the auspices of the Joint Health and Safety Committee,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email to Puck Daddy. “We send out notices and precaution instructions on a regular basis.”

What Daly says makes sense at a league-wide corporate level. But go down the food chain a little and you’ll see the problem here.

There’s sort of a ‘tough guy’ mentality. If you’re sick, play through it. If you ‘get your bell rung’ then it’s no big deal. At least until we realized that it was a big deal and concussions were a problem that simply had to be stopped. 

The problem with the NHL and player-related sickness issues can be summed up in one sentence, sadly by one of my favorite NHL personalities – Kings coach Darryl Sutter.

The below quote comes from lakingsinsider when Sutter was asked about the team battling illness:

“I don’t like talking about it…It’s sort of what the popular thing around the league now for guys to use as an excuse, and we don’t. [Reporter: I know because a couple of guys were under the weather on the trip. Is that something that kind of carried over from there, or is it a new thing?] No, we’ve had three days off…You’ve just got to get through it. It’s what you do.”

This was the morning skate before the Kings battled the Ducks in a #rivalrynight showdown – which actually merited the hashtag. And though the question was about the Kings, maybe it involved some gentle ribbing about the Ducks? If so … not cool. Perry has been out for 11 days, and only recently started working out.

This isn’t Dave Carlson sitting out a game for the Charlestown Chiefs with a cold. It’s the freaking mumps.

This issue, in some ways again, brings the NHL’s machismo mentality from its old boys network to the forefront, and adds some medical science to it.

Every once in a while, a flu does ravage an NHL locker room. These things are unavoidable when you’re playing 82 games. But it’s more than just being tough. It’s taking the correct precautions to ensure other humans don’t get sick. Did you know that per the CDC, in 2010 the flu and pneumonia killed 53,826 Americans?

And though the NHL does have procedures to stop these, the root of the problem is not the illness itself, but the desire/want from management, coaching and the player to simply be tough. It’s when this finally subsides, that the mumps won’t be an issue.