It's February. While the weather's been unusually nice there are a few other things synonymous with this time of year, including illness. The Blackhawks have encountered some of that right now. Fortunately for them, however, it's not the mumps that are once again hitting other NHL locker rooms.
The Minnesota Wild, who played the Blackhawks before heading into their bye, came out of their break with several players diagnosed with the mumps. It's the second time in three seasons the Wild have dealt with the illness. The Vancouver Canucks also came out of their bye with several players affected by the mumps. The Blackhawks are taking the necessary precautions to maintain health but aren't too concerned about it affecting them.
"I mean, it's that season where people get the flu, people get sick. You have to take care of yourself, get your sleep, get your rest, all the little things a doctor would tell you to do," Jonathan Toews said. "You make sure you're healthy and your immune system's strong. What else can do you? Knock on wood we squeak by with this whole deal again."
The mumps, which are highly contagious, can be spread in various ways, including by sneezing or coughing, using the same cutlery/plates as an infected person or sharing food or drink with an infected person according to Medical News Today. Considering that and other causes, it's no surprise that it can go through a locker room fast.
"It's weird it seems to happen in the NHL and not elsewhere," Trevor van Riemsdyk said. "Obviously you're aware of all that stuff but we do a good job of doing the precautionary measures. It's tough to prevent. You can pass through physical contact, stuff like that, but with everything else we do a good job of taking care of ourselves. We're doing our due diligence on what we can control."
Asked if the Blackhawks got the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine after the outbreak two seasons ago, coach Joel Quenneville wasn't sure. He reiterated what others said about taking the necessary steps to stay healthy.
"I think our organization, staff, medical team, trainers are well aware when there's sickness internally, they're right on top of it," he said. "We're probably the only team in the league that travels with a doctor on the road full time. Whether it's flus, colds, mumps or what have you, [being] diligent on that is something the guys have done a really good job with; trying to prevent an epidemic where you have half a team out at the same time."
The Blackhawks have been hit by some bug recently. Corey Crawford and Jordin Tootoo returned to practice on Tuesday after dealing with their respective illnesses. The mumps, however, have returned to the NHL. The Blackhawks will do what they can to make sure they're not the next team battling them.
"You hear that word and you might get a little scared but at the same time we've had guys sick in here [with other things] as well. Throughout the whole year you try to take care of yourself, keep yourself fresh. It's easier said than done sometimes, and guys are eventually going to get sick," Patrick Kane said. "But at this time of year you really want to be cautious."