Red Wings taking precautions against NHL mumps outbreak

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — The mumps. Who would have thought that would be an issue for the Red Wings this season?

With 14 NHL players already diagnosed, word spread booster shots would be made available, players said they had called home to get information about their history of immunizations, and there was more than a bit of suggestion no one is too much worried about it — yet.

"It's unfortunate for the guys who are getting it," Red Wings center Riley Sheahan said. "It's one of those things where we don't have anyone who's got it, so we're just going to kind of keep going with the flow."

Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco said his mother, Slavka, is in town, and he asked her to help him recall what inoculations he received in Slovakia growing up.

"This is the cold and flu season anyway, so you've got to take precautions," Red Wings center Luke Glendening said. "Definitely wasn't expecting it, but that's the way it is sometimes."

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control inform there is more than a 146 percent increase in occurrences nationally this year, and advise that people in close contact, specifically mentioning athletes who play team sports, are particularly susceptible.

Mumps is spread through contact with saliva and mucus, like uncovered coughs and sneezes, and even hollering at someone in close quarters, as hockey players occasionally do.

Red Wings trainer Peit van Zant said through a spokesman booster shots are available for anyone who wants one, and players are advised to take the normal precautions, such as frequent hand washing, and that there will be some extra cleaning of the dressing room.

Sheahan said he "definitely" would take a booster.

Sidney Crosby has it, and Penguins officials said Monday he is likely past the contagious stage. But they also announced they were testing Beau Bennett.

It seemed to first affect big Ducks scorer Corey Perry. Then defenseman Francois Beauchemin missed five games with it and lost 10 pounds.

Red Wings officials said Johan Franzen and Tomas Tatar missed practice with what normally would be small concerns, the kind of unhealthy feelings that might make it better to stay home from work and rest.

But the mumps often first manifest with symptoms similar to colds and flus, and CDC officias say there is a 12- to 18-day period of incubation after exposure before the mumps really set in.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he had gone through his own flu-season checklist, but will redouble some efforts, like using the hand sanitizer he keeps in his car after fans shake his hand in public.

"I don't even know if I had it or not," Babcock said. "I remember in high school, everyone getting it.

"I assume I've been vaccinated. But I also understand a lot of European players wouldn't have. So, it's important to provide the opportunity to them. And that's what we're going to do

"We're going to provide it for everybody and, in the meantime, we're going to be encouraging everyone to do what they can for their immune system.

"We do that here anyway.

"Sleeping and not getting run down, that's easy to say. But when you travel like we do, we just played five games in eight days, the reason your immune system gets run down is because you do that stuff."

Along those lines, Franzen and Tatar staying home was considered the best alternative for keeping them healthy, regardless of the nature of their illnesses, Babcock said.

"They're just sick, run down," he said.

"All we did today was say, what's going to make you best for you tomorrow? Is it the day off going to make you best, or is skating going to make you best.

"I assume they're both playing (against the Blue Jackets tonight)."

Injury report

The Red Wings had two injured players, Justin Abdelkader (shoulder) and Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), working during the full practice Monday.

Both should be in the lineup tonight.

"I sure assume they are, I acted like they were," Babcock said.

Stephen Weiss (shoulder) did not skate.

Blue Jackets hot

Needing a win after a loss in regulation and two in the shootout, the Red Wings are catching the Blue Jackets at a bad time.

They are on a win streak, and their goalie is hot, too.

"Six in a row," Babcock said of Columbus's winning streak. "(And goaltender Sergei) Bobrovsky's playing well. They've got a good team. We all knew they had a good team, they were really injured.

"We need a bounce-back game ourselves. Our energy level should be back.

"That's what today and even tomorrow morning is about is getting our energy level back so we're ready to play and play the right way. "