Mumps: The NHL’s Not So Silent Killer


The mumps. An illness that has taken the National Hockey League by storm over the past weeks has taken yet another victim, and it was the league’s poster boy, Sidney Crosby.

Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, Clayton Stoner, Tanner Glass, Ryan Suter, Keith Ballard, and Jonas Brodin have all been diagnosed with the mumps since early November, and it seemingly continues to take player after player out of the lineup for extended periods of time.

Once mumps gets into an NHL locker room, it is given the chance to run rampant. In tight quarters, the mumps has the opportunity to spread quickly from person to person.

What is the mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the salivary glands. It can cause swelling in one or both salivary glands and can lead to trouble hearing, as well. It is very contagious.

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The illness used to be much more common before the vaccination became more routine throughout the 20th century.

The big question is, who brought the mumps into an NHL locker room? And while we do not know the answer, we do know that just coughing, sneezing, or any kind of exchange of saliva from one person to another is all that it takes to spread the illness.

Another troubling thing about the mumps is that it becomes contagious before symptoms are seen.

Teams have offered their players boosters, including the Minnesota Wild, a team that has been hit very hard by the mumps.

Minnesota’s star defenseman Ryan Suter reportedly declined getting the booster for mumps, and he payed for it when he got the mumps in early December.

“I probably wash my hands more than anybody,” Suter said. “I go out of the way to make sure I’m a clean guy. So for me to get it, it stunk. I always tell these guys, ‘You’ve got to be mentally strong and you’ll never get sick.’ So they’re all giving me a hard time.”

Ryan Suter missed just 2 games over a 10 day period, but Corey Perry missed 5 games over a 13 day period, so some players get over it quicker than others.

While the mumps continues to affect NHL players, the awareness for it will be through the roof. And players who are showing symptoms of the mumps should be kept as far away from team facilities as possible, right? Wrong.

Sidney Crosby started showing symptoms for the mumps several days ago. He did not practice with the team on Tuesday due to an “undisclosed illness” at the time – we now know that it was mumps. It was announced he will sit 2 games for precautionary reasons, yet he was still in the locker room around Penguins players, staff, team officials, and local media on Friday prior to the team’s game against the Calgary Flames.

That was shocking to me. Mumps has been spreading like wild fire for the past few weeks, and he is being allowed near so many people, while it is very obvious that he is showing symptoms of the illness.

He did not play that game against the Flames, even though he seemed certain that he would. This seems like an obvious mistake from the team to allow a player with increasing symptoms of mumps to be around so many people at once. Even if he is the league’s star player, it just doesn’t compute with me.

As the awareness of mumps around the league continues to go up, the diagnosed cases will likely go down. But, unfortunately, the mumps has taken another victim, and that victim is someone that the league did not want to see, and it is Sidney Crosby.