ANAHEIM — The Ducks locker room had nothing super duper special going on after a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
Players rushed to get undressed to catch an afternoon flight to San Jose for the next day’s game. There was nobody in decontamination outfits, or anything that would make anyone think or know that the mumps have been a plague both in the room and on the ice for Anaheim.
Before the game, the Ducks announced defenseman Clayton Stoner was out with the virus. Which again brings another mumps cycle back into the Anaheim locker room — trying to figure out who has it, when they got it, and how to stop the outbreak.
Note to everyone — this is not a horrifying super life threatening illness. We get it. But it still sucks, and has been a major story for this team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
“Gotta keep trucking,” forward Ryan Kesler said. “It’s unfortunate that we have that going through our locker room right now, but at some point it happens to every team in the league. Injury bug, sickness. We just have to keep going and keep doing this.”
Since Corey Perry and defenseman Francois Beauchemin were officially diagnosed with the virus, players and traveling staffers have had to undergo vaccinations per a team spokesman, who had recently recovered from strep throat. Yeah, the sickness fun never stops here in the land of Disney.
“We know there’s a disease going around,” goaltender Frederik Andersen said. “It’s tough, but it’s nothing we can do about really. Here you play the people that are healthy.”
Since Perry’s last game, which may have been pre-mumps — we don’t know because there’s an incubation period — the Ducks have gone 4-2-5. They’ve had to grind out every point through this illness, and injury as well — since now Beauchemin is out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger. And as of Friday afternoon, the Ducks somehow rank first in the Pacific Division.
“If we sit there and throw our hands up and give up, we’re in a position where bad things are going to happen for a while,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So you have to dig deep and stay positive and go at it. That’s what we’ve done all year through all this stuff through all of this stuff, and that’s why our record is what it is in spite of what’s happened to us.”
But the question remains — how will the mumps play out for the Ducks as the season continues? Some — looking at you Bailey of the Los Angeles Kings – have made fun of the Ducks mumps situation in an insanely distasteful fashion.
The fact that Anaheim has stayed afloat shows the Ducks’ overall depth, as well as the smart hand of general manager Bob Murray, who acquired Eric Brewer from Tampa Bay on Friday for a third round pick.
But Perry has just two points in six games since his return. He was scoring at like a super Rocket Richard/Hart Trophy pace beforehand with 11 goals in 13 games.
After dealing with illness like the mumps — where one of the side effects is sterility you have to wonder when Perry will get back to normal. You can’t just play your way back into shape.
And with Stoner now out, the Ducks are back to square one to seeing if the disease will continue to move through the locker room. So far this Disney-ish movie has had anything but a happy ending.
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