On the morning of tonight's pivotal date with the league-leading Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames centre Dustin Boyd was nowhere to be found, the latest NHL player to come down with the flu - and forced into isolation from his teammates.
This, of course, goes against the normal NHL ethic - that a player, injured or felled by an illness, attempt to play unless he is absolutely bed-ridden.
"That's a little bit more of the old-school thinking that goes along with coaches who've been around for a long time," agreed Flames' defenceman Robyn Regehr. "For us as players, though, we don't want guys who are sick around because even it's one guy, he can affect the group - 20 or 22 guys.
"For the better of the team, you gotta make a decision with your head, not with your heart."
The Flames were scheduled to get their seasonal flu shots later in the day - with the H1N1 vaccine probably still a couple of weeks away. Still, with the Avalanche losing Peter Budaj to the strain; the Oilers Ladislav Smid just returning and the Capitals announcing Wednesday that Quinton Laing has swine flu, it looks as if the virus is making its way through the NHL - and the precautions are underway.
"They have team doctors for a reason," said Flames' coach Brent Sutter. "We trust the medical staff."
At 38, the oldest member of the Flames' is Craig Conroy. Does his age provide him with extra immunity?
"Hopefully, it's going to bypass me," he said. "I've definitely heard it's not that much fun, so I'd much rather not want to get sick."
The Flames' light early-season schedule has been a contributing factor to keeping everyone, except Boyd now, healthy.
"We haven't had to fly on airplanes, or do anything that puts us in close proximity to anyone who is infected," said Conroy, noting that the team has adopted all the recommended precautions to keep the flu at bay.
"We used to have four or five water bottles that everybody shared. Now, a lot of times, you have your own water bottle. You don't want to share water; you don't want to share razors or towels. You do the best you can.
"Obviously, it's going to get you if it's going to get you, but you try your best."
As for Colorado, with Budaj convalescing at home and rookie Tyler Weiman acting as back-up, the NHL's leading goaltender, Craig Anderson, will make his 13th consecutive start.
"I think we've done a terrific job in quarantining the issue there (Budaj) there and making sure everybody's healthy and staying hydrated and making sure it doesn't spread through the team," said Anderson.Report Typo/Error