The mumps are back and this time have stricken the Wild’s No. 1 defenseman.
The virus that has strangely hit only Wild blue-liners (so far) this season has officially been implicated as the reason Ryan Suter missed his first game as a Wild player Wednesday against Montreal.
However, coach Mike Yeo said Suter, the NHL’s biggest minute muncher the past two seasons, was feeling better Thursday and “I’m not even ready to rule him out” of Friday’s game against Anaheim.
Defenseman Marco Scandella missed only two games because of the mumps. Christian Folin missed five, Jonas Brodin seven and Keith Ballard eight, “so it affects people differently,” Yeo said.
When the mumps first infiltrated the locker room, the Wild quickly separated Folin and Ballard from the team. All players and staff were offered mumps boosters three weeks ago, but since symptoms usually appear 16-18 days after infection and people are mostly contagious three days before the onset of symptoms and up to nine days after, the virus has penetrated the Wild’s walls at this point.
“[Suter] is a pretty important player to us and, obviously, we’ve tried to take precautions with that,” Yeo said. “Whether he’s around, it’s obviously around us, so I don’t know that’s going to make a huge difference.
“I might have it in me, you might have it in you. Even though we decontaminated and cleaned the room, even though I don’t have it, I might still be bringing it back into the room. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I’m trying to learn and probably learning too much about this, to be honest with you.
“We’re doing everything we can. But at the same time, we can’t be sitting around thinking about the mumps. We play a pretty darn good hockey team [Friday].”
In fact, the Ducks’ Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin and former Wild Clayton Stoner have gotten the mumps this season. So have members of the St. Louis Blues. The virus is spread by mucus and saliva, usually when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces.
If Suter can’t play, the Wild again will lean on Brodin, Scandella, Folin, Ballard and the only two defensemen who have thus far avoided the mumps, Jared Spurgeon and Nate Prosser.
“Luckily this hasn’t become a bigger story to be honest with you,” Yeo said. “… The fact that we’ve overcome this adversity, we’ve talked about just how important our ‘D’ were to the type of game we want to play and when we’re successful how involved we are at both sides of the puck, and we just really haven’t had our group together. But our guys have done a good job battling through that.”