The Albany Devils are being very careful.
They won’t say exactly what they’re being careful about, at least not by name, just in case The Illness That Shall Not Be Named gravitates to those who mention it.
After answering one question about illness while using vague terms, it was mentioned to Albany coach Rick Kowalsky it sounded as though he didn’t even want to say the word.
“No, I don’t,” he said frankly, and with a voice that reveals he is fighting off a cold or flu.
A few moments later, Albany captain Rod Pelley called it “The ‘M’ Word.”
Mumps has made the rounds through the NHL, and continues to do so, but just as recently as Friday hit the Albany Devils. It was announced that goalie Scott Clemmensen has been diagnosed with the disease, and New Jersey reassigned goalie Maxime
Clermont from Orlando of the ECHL to Albany in the AHL to fill the vacated spot.
“All we can do is monitor him and see how he is, really just go day to day,” said Albany Devils general manager Chris Lamoriello. “It’s different for everybody. I can tell you we’ve taken every precaution here, even before this happened, as much as you can.”
Mumps is a virus that causes painful swelling in salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, fever and headache, weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite, and pain while chewing or swallowing, according to www.mayoclinic.org.
Lamoriello said the players have been educated on how best to avoid contracting or spreading the disease, beginning with personal hygiene practices. Also, every player was offered a booster shot.
“Our trainers and staff have done a great job,” Pelley said. “We got shots as soon as this stuff came up in New Jersey, we got shots down here.”
The dreaded mumps have made some of the players, who are dealing with the regular illnesses of the season, a little wary each time they start feeling a little off.
“It’s that time of the season,” Kowalsky said. “Obviously, you guys know, the other stuff. We’ve also got a little bit of cold and flu going around, too. There’s a little bit of a panic thinking it’s something else. We have three or four guys in the lineup who are dealing with this right now.”
The Devils’ concern for containing the disease extends beyond their own dressing room. They send players out for community appearances throughout the season, but now must make sure anyone who may be showing symptoms, or even be in a bit of a panic, as Kowalsky said, over what is a cold instead, errs on the side of caution and stays home.
“I think the biggest thing would be staying in communication with [trainer] Scott Stanhibal and letting him know where you’re at, as far as how you’re feeling,” Pelley said. “Keeping that line open. If events are coming up and you’re a little under the weather, it’s not an issue to find someone else. Just being pro-active in that area, I think, is the best way to handle it. No one wants to go out and spread this any further than where it is.”
For one player, though, there’s an opportunity to be had.
Even if Clermont doesn’t play a single second, being in Albany, he will get to work with goalie coach Johan Hedberg during practices.
“It’s always good to work with Moose,” Clermont said. “He’s so good at what he’s doing, and it’s always great to be around him. I can learn a lot every day around him.”
Clermont backed up Scott Wedgewood on Friday and Saturday, and Kowalsky said he liked how Wedgewood looked in those games. Depending on how long Clemmensen is out, and how well Wedgewood continues to play, Clermont may or may not see ice time here.
The Devils take the ice tonight at 7 in Albany against Providence, then Friday at 7 p.m. against Syracuse, also at home, before playing at Bridgeport both Saturday and Sunday, at 7 and 3 p.m., respectively. If Clemmensen is not back, Clermont could see time, especially during that three-in-three weekend.
“We’ll see how long it takes,” Clermont said. “I’m going to just take it day by day, and we’ll see what happens. I want to play, and I’ll be ready to go. I’m just going to practice hard, and if they put me in, I’ll be ready, for sure.”