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SGV Tribune

Ducks’ bout with midseason virus shows challenge of avoiding, containing illness

Respiratory illness that swept through the team’s locker room sidelined several players, a coach and a reporter, too.

When a respiratory illness swept through the Ducks’ dressing room in late December, just before the NHL’s annual Christmas break, no one thought much about it. Those things tend to happen at that time of the calendar year, with players in close proximity and traveling together.

This bug was a nasty one, though, sidelining several players for several games with a persistent cough that made breathing difficult, especially at night. It would last for several weeks before it finally ran its course, just as word that a deadly new coronavirus was racing through Wuhan, China.

It’s impossible to know if what the Ducks had was COVID-19, but it illustrated how quickly a respiratory illness can spread through a team and why resuming the season after it was postponed March 12 could be more difficult than many outside of the medical profession might realize.

The Ducks couldn’t say who fell ill first, but team captain Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Jakob Silfverberg, two of their key players, were forced to sit out games while the team was on a four-game trip to play the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and New York Rangers.

Coach Dallas Eakins also fell ill, and reporters were banned from the visiting dressing room after the shorthanded Ducks lost Dec. 22 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the final game before the five-day holiday break. Getzlaf and Silfverberg returned to the lineup Dec. 27.

“Usually, you have a flu go through your room and that’s one thing,” Eakins said at the time. “This respiratory thing we’ve had go through is as nasty as it gets. We’ve had some guys almost get over it. We’ve had a couple of other guys pick it up.”

As it turned out, staying outside the dressing room didn’t stop the spread because this reporter also came down with the illness upon returning from New York. The cough was tough to shake. Most of one day waas spent in bed with fever and chills. It was difficult to sleep at night.

The illness passed after a few weeks, but those were difficult weeks.