Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Swine flu: the NHL's answer to biological warfare

It was confirmed yesterday that
Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid had the H1N1 virus after over half of the Oilers roster experienced varying degrees of the flu. The sports world is not immune to the H1N1 pandemic--in fact the conditions in most dressing rooms and arenas present an optimal breeding ground for the Swine Flu--and so far two other NHL players are currently sitting out with the virus and others claim to have had it as well.

The most worrying part of this news is that Smid did not miss a game while infected, which means he could have easily spread the Swine to other members of his team and (gasp) the opposition. Here's where my conspiracy theory kicks in--the Oilers played their last three games against Northwest division opponents, including the Flames, Canucks, and Avalanche, where Smid wasn't the only player with flu-like symptoms in the Oilers lineup. Could Swine Flu be the NHL's answer to biological warfare?

In all seriousness, this virus kills. The NHL should take it more seriously and encourage players to get vaccinated and stay away from practice/games and off-ice activities with their teammates if they are feeling under the weather. The league is taking the right steps in ensuring that players don't share water bottles or towels and having team trainers properly sanitize dressing rooms and equipment, but the players are also responsible for their own well being and, to a lesser extent, that of their teammates and other players around the league.

Flames forward Dustin Boyd missed practice Monday morning with the flu and has since been held out of further practices and will not be playing tonight as a precaution. I know that realistically, the Oilers could not have told half their roster to stay home and consume copious amounts of chicken noodle soup, but all players experiencing flu-like symptoms should be tested for the H1N1 virus and held out of the lineup until the results are confirmed; the organization should have handled the situation more carefully. Being a slightly obsessive-compulsive hypochondriac myself, I received the H1N1 vaccine today and am not experiencing any adverse effects apart from a sore arm; I encourage everyone else, especially athletes, to do the same.

In other news...

Roberto Luongo is injured and out indefinitely with...(drumroll please)...a hairline fracture in his rib. He is expected to miss about a week. Anticlimactic, isn't it? Whatever makes you feel better about allowing five goals in front of Stevie Y and Team Canada management, Bobby Lu.

I don't have Centre Ice or the NHL Network, so the games I get to choose from tonight (aside from the Flames/Avs game, which I ordered on PPV. It's my first PPV experience and I'm curious as to what all the fuss is about. Will report findings later) are Leafs vs. Stars and Sens vs. Panthers. You spoil me, TSN. Why the hell would I want to watch sub-par, Ontario-based teams play mediocre, Southern-U.S. based teams? You do know there are NHL franchises located outside of Ontario, right? The Coyotes haven't been relocated quite yet.

Adam Pardy draws back into the lineup tonight for the Flames in place of Aaron Johnson. What took so long?

IF the Flames get bodies to the net, shoot the puck, and play with disciplined physicality, they could edge Anderson and the Avs. If they don't, well, I just wasted fourteen dollars of my parent's money and this could be a very long night. We all saw how the Avs created offence off of turnovers and clogged up the neutral zone worse than fat clogs up Kyle Wellwood's arteries last night against the Oilers; Sutter and Co. undoubtably took note of that. The Flames will have to make sure they protect the puck well and not focus on gaining entry into the offensive zone solely by carrying it in; sometimes a good dump-in followed by a solid forecheck works wonders. There's probably a joke there but I can't be bothered to think about it.

May the best team win, but preferably the Flames.


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