Skip Navigation
request an appointment my chart notification lp musc-logo-white-01 facebook twitter youtube blog find a provider circle arrow
MUSC mobile menu

MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: nhl

Guest Post by:
Bobby Weisenberger, ATC, PES
Head Athletic Trainer Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine


During the NHL season it is very common for players to miss playing minutes while recovering from injury.  However, this season players were missing playing minutes for an entirely different reason, illness.  Several players were diagnosed and quarantined for having the Mumps Virus.

While we rarely see mumps in the United States, outbreaks are still a possibility.  These outbreaks occur in locations where people spend a lot of time in close contact with others.  Common areas for possible outbreak are classrooms, sports teams, and college dormitories.

Mumps is a viral infection that primarily affects the parotid salivary glands.  Signs and symptoms of Mumps are:

  • Parotitis or swollen salivary glands, which can affect one or both sides.  This is where Mumps actually gets it name from the swollen looking cheeks
  • Pain with chewing and or swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and fatigue
  •  Headache
  • Fever

If the overwhelming majorities are vaccinated with the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) injection, how did this happen in the NHL?  While the vaccine is good, it has been shown to lose its effectiveness after 10 years.  Most children are now given a booster vaccine, which will take them into their early 20s.  This is significant timing because if immunity weakens after 10 years, this places individuals in their early 20s, which is the college age, and coming into the time where players are being drafted into the professional teams.

Mumps are spread through contact with the salvia of an infected person.  Examples are: 

  • Breathing in saliva droplets can infect a person after an infected person has coughed or sneezed
  • Touching items that have been coughed, sneezed, or spit on and then putting your hands into your mouth
  • Sharing eating utensils or cups with an infected person can also spread Mumps

This makes sports teams vulnerable because players typically pass and share water bottles.  This combined with the very close contact, hands/gloves to the face, heavier breathing, coughing, and spitting created the perfect storm for the outbreak in the NHL.

Below is a list of players and officials who either tested positive for Mumps Virus or showed symptoms of Mumps along with a timeline of the outbreak courtesy of ESPN.

Players, officials diagnosed with mumps or showing mumps-like symptoms

Anaheim Ducks: Corey Perry (Canadian), Francois Beauchemin (Canadian), Clayton Stoner (Canadian), Emerson Etem (American).

Minnesota Wild: Ryan Suter (American), Keith Ballard (American), Marco Scandella (Canadian), Jonas Brodin (Swedish), Christian Folin (Swedish).

New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac (Canadian), Adam Larsson (Swedish), Patrik Elias (Czech), Scott Clemmensen (American), Michael Ryder (Canadian).

New York Rangers: Tanner Glass (Canadian), Derick Brassard (Canadian), Joey Crabb (with AHL Hartford; American), Lee Stempniak (American).

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby (Canadian), Beau Bennett (American), Olli Maatta (Finnish), Steve Downie (Canadian), Thomas Greiss (German)

St. Louis Blues: suspected but not confirmed

NHL officials

Referee Eric Furlatt, linesman Steve Miller

No confirmations of team support staff being diagnosed with the disease have been reported, although an intern with the Pittsburgh Penguins radio staff has been confirmed to have the virus.

Timeline of events related to the mumps outbreak in the NHL:

Sept. 12: Local health unit issues mumps alert in Orange County, California, where some Anaheim Ducks players live.

Oct. 2: Blues play Wild in preseason game.

Oct. 4: Blues play Wild in preseason game

Mid-October: St. Louis Blues players reportedly test positive for mumps -- Joakim Lindstrom and Jori Lehtera reportedly had mumps-like symptoms -- although the team has never confirmed this.

Oct. 16: Referee Eric Furlatt works Blues-Kings game.

Oct. 17: Keith Ballard of the Minnesota Wild misses game against Ducks with mumps-like symptoms; referee Eric Furlatt works game.

Oct. 19: Ducks play Blues.

Oct. 23: Linesman Steve Miller works Blues-Canucks game.

Oct. 27: Wild play Rangers.

Oct. 30: Ducks play Blues.

Early November: Furlatt misses games with mumps-like symptoms.

Nov. 3: Blues play Rangers.

Nov. 4: Wild play Penguins; Blues play Devils; linesman Steve Miller works Blues-Devils game.

Nov. 5: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks miss game vs. Islanders with flu-like symptoms.

Nov. 6: Blues play Devils.

Nov. 7: Ducks play Coyotes; Getzlaf returns, Perry sits out second consecutive game.

Nov. 8: Marco Scandella of the Minnesota Wild shows first signs of mumps-like symptoms, but plays 22:04 against Montreal Canadiens.

Nov. 9: Ducks play Canucks; Beauchemin misses game with the flu.

Nov. 11: Wild play Devils; linesman Steve Miller misses game, later reported to be because of mumps-like symptoms; Perry and Beauchemin diagnosed with mumps; Rangers play Penguins.

Nov. 13: Wild play Sabres; Jonas Brodin and Scandella of the Wild sit out with illnesses later suspected to be mumps.

Nov. 15: Rangers play Penguins.

Mid-November: Team physicians sent email by NHL-NHLPA joint health and safety committee with recommended changes to bench and dressing room behavior.

Nov. 23: Ducks play Coyotes; Clayton Stoner of the Ducks scratched with mumps-like symptoms.

Nov. 24-28: Penguins immunized and tested for mumps.

Nov. 28: Sidney Crosby of the Penguins treated for injury to right side of neck; Crosby is treated and tested for mumps; results are negative.

Nov. 28: Tanner Glass of the New York Rangers sent home from Philadelphia after showing flu-like symptoms.

Nov. 29: Wild play Blues; Glass diagnosed with mumps; Rangers get booster shots.

Dec. 2: Devils play Penguins.

Dec. 4: Ryan Suter of Minnesota Wild diagnosed with mumps.

Dec. 8: Rangers play Penguins; Crosby plays 18:56, his shortest time on ice in eight games.

Dec. 10: Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils diagnosed with mumps.

Dec. 10-11: Crosby tested again; no symptoms displayed and tests showed no indications of an infection.

Dec. 11: Penguins visit nearby children's hospital.

Dec. 12: Crosby, who had previously had a booster shot before the 2014 Olympics, held out as a precaution after face swells; spent time around teammates in dressing room; Crosby's DNA sent to CDC for further testing.

Dec. 14: Crosby and Derick Brassard of the New York Rangers diagnosed with mumps.

Dec. 15: Beau Bennett of the Pittsburgh Penguins tested for mumps; Detroit Red Wings offer mumps booster shots to players.

Dec. 16: Bennett diagnosed with mumps.

Dec. 17: Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta of the Penguins tested for mumps as a precautionary measure.

Dec. 18: Fleury tests negative for the virus, backup goalie Thomas Greiss held out as a precaution; Rangers isolate Lee Stempniak while he is tested for the mumps; AHL Hartford Wolfpack forward Joey Crabb and head coach Ken Gernander tested for mumps; radio intern with the Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed to have case of the mumps

Dec. 19: Olli Maatta tests positive for mumps.

Dec. 22: Penguins Steve Downie, Brandon Sutter and Thomas Greiss sent home from Florida to be tested for mumps virus; Crabb and Stempniak test positive for the mumps

Dec. 26: Downie and Greiss diagnosed with mumps.

Dec. 27: Patrik Elias, Scott Clemmensen and Michael Ryder of the New Jersey Devils diagnosed with mumps.

What can we do to protect ourselves from future Mumps outbreaks?

  • Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and the Mayo Clinic agree that the most important thing we can do to prevent Mumps is get the MMR vaccine. 
  • It is also important to have a booster vaccine
  • Once vaccinated, prevention begins with simply measures such as washing your hands
  • Make sure your hands are properly cleaned before touching your face or putting your hands to your mouth
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with others
  • Cover all coughs and sneezes
  • Use your own water bottle when possible
  • When sharing water bottles do not ever touch your mouth to the bottle
  • Quickly isolate and quarantine any individuals suspected to have Mumps and seek immediate medical attention

Guest Post by:

Bobby Weisenberger, ATC, PES
Head Athletic Trainer Charleston Battery
MUSC Sports Medicine

As the calendar turns to fall, Ice Hockey fans start to look to the start of a new season.  Hockey players of all skill levels are starting to hit the ice.  All of the major leagues including NHL, AHL, ECHL, and NCAA have seasons starting in October with the High School and Youth leagues following their lead.

Hockey is a considered a collision sport and treated as “high risk of injury”.  Due to the high contact nature of the game, hockey players wear a great deal of protective padding.  This padding consist of helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, padded gloves, padded pants that also protect kidneys, shin pads that also cover the knee, and skates.  Goalies wear helmets with full-face cages, a heavy-duty chest protector, wrist blocker and catching glove, large padded shin pads, and skates.  Due to several instances of eye injury, all of the pro leagues have mandated visors on helmets, while the NCAA and the leagues below require full-face protection.

Even with all of this protection injuries are still a major part of the game.  The most common injury in hockey are lacerations to the face caused by contact to the face by opposing players, high sticks, hitting the boards/glass, or being hit by the puck.  Ligament injuries, muscle strains, fractures, concussions, and contusions are also very common.  Many players suffer groin strains due to the specific types of movement required on the frictionless surface.  Knees and ankles are also susceptible to injury because of the heavy torque placed on the lower extremity during turning and pivoting on the ice.   Knees and ankles are also vulnerable to injury through contact with opposing players.

While some of these injuries are unpreventable, players can prevent many of them by engaging in proper training programs and proper pre practice/ pregame warm-ups.  Proper training programs include strengthening any muscles that are determined to be deficient.  Players should also be on a daily flexibility program to ensure they can function through a complete range of motion.  Pre practice and pregame warm-ups should consist of active muscle warm-up activities and drills.  Players must properly warm-up muscle groups before attempting any dynamic movements on the ice.

With the proper precautions and preparations, Ice Hockey is a great game that can be enjoyed safely at many ages.  Any and all injuries should be immediately reported to your teams Athletic Trainer and Team Physicians to ensure all injuries are dealt with in a timely manor with player safety always the main focus.


Share Your Story

Subscribe to the Blog