TORONTO – The National Hockey League is watching the progression of H1N1 cases among its players but at this point sees no need for special measures to help prevent spread of the illness.
The Washington Capitals confirmed Wednesday that forward Quintin Laing is being treated for H1N1, making him at least the third NHL player to be diagnosed with it.
On Tuesday cases were confirmed for Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid and Colorado Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj. New York Islanders forward Doug Weight returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing three games with H1N1.
“We have been regularly providing our clubs with updated information and recommendations as they become available,” the NHL said in a statement released to The Canadian Press. “We have not mandated specific precautions or courses of action. The league is monitoring the progression of the flu, but have implemented no specific ‘contingency plans’ at this point in time. However, we will be prepared to do so should it become necessary.”
The Capitals said no other players have shown symptoms of the swine flu and that Laing is being kept away from the rest of the team.
He sat out Washington’s 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night and will miss at least the next two games, too.
The Oilers took similar precautions with Smid, but the 23-year-old defenceman didn’t miss a game and was back on his skates after two days of rest.
The irony in the Oilers’ dressing room is a half-dozen of Smid’s teammates have been hit harder with a non-H1N1 variety of the flu, with Gilbert Brule missing three games so far, Mike Comrie two, and Ales Hemsky one.
“I guess I got lucky and it didn’t hit me that bad,” said Smid, who began feeling ill Oct. 20.
Lubomir Visnovsky, Smid’s defensive partner, didn’t play late in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Avalanche after taking ill and didn’t practise Wednesday. He’ll become the third Oilers player tested for H1N1, along with Smid and Brule.
“I was kind of shocked,” Smid said of his test. “Brule had way worse flu than me and he didn’t have it (H1N1) and I did.”
Budaj, meanwhile, didn’t accompany the Avalanche for the start of their four-game road trip, though he hopes to rejoin the team before it returns home.
Weight confirmed Wednesday that he was bedridden with the virus after being diagnosed eight days earlier. He was deemed to be no longer contagious after five days.
“I wasn’t scared at all. It was the flu as far as I’m concerned,” Weight said before the Islanders played the New York Rangers. “The only difference for myself, first and foremost, was I have three kids and a wife that I live with.
While the Oilers are taking the same precautions that have been laid out for the public by Alberta Health, the Vancouver Canucks aren’t changing their regular plan for dealing with seasonal flu.
“Nothing more than we’ve done in the past,” coach Alain Vigneault said when asked if additional preventive measures were being put in place this year. “We’ll give our guys shots after we’ve done this big stretch here (nine games in 17 days). The shots are planned for mid-November.
“Obviously we’re trying to … on the plane, guys are using that (anti-bacterial) stuff for the hands a little bit more.”
-With files from The Associated Press