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Tampa Bay Lightning being vigilant while guarding against swine flu

Lightning head medical trainer Tommy Mulligan said that as the vaccine for the H1N1 flu virus becomes more available, the organization will recommend players get it.

And get it "through our doctors, as opposed to going to (a storefront)," Mulligan said. "The availability of the vaccine is the biggest issue. Once it becomes available to us, we'll recommend it for the players and give them the opportunity and the choice with our recommendation."

Other than that, the Lightning has not drastically changed what it does to guard against bugs that could travel through the team. Hand-washing is being stressed, as are cautions against sharing water bottles and towels.

If there is a difference, Mulligan said, "We're paying more attention to and being more diligent about symptoms.

"If a player had symptoms, instead of saying, 'Let's take a day and see how it goes,' we're probably going to have to get on it a little quicker and make sure it's not anything serious."

Four NHL players are known to have contracted the virus commonly known as swine flu: Edmonton's Ladislav Smid, Washington's Quintin Laing, Colorado's Peter Budaj and the Islanders' Doug Weight.

As of Saturday, no Lightning player had reported symptoms or had the seasonal flu, for which they get an annual shot.

"Knock on wood, we've been good so far," Mulligan said. "But once you start traveling, you never know. You go into different cities, you go into locker rooms teams have been in previously, that's when you have to keep your guard up a little bit."

"And if it's not swine flu, it's something else," captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "It goes around. When someone gets sick, everyone gets sick. That's part of being a team, traveling together and being on planes three, four, five hours."

Players are being proactive.

Wing Drew Miller said he washes his hands 10 to 15 times a day. Lecavalier, who admitted to being more "germ-aware" the past few seasons, is a big hand-washer, too. Defenseman Matt Walker said some players pop vitamins.

Even so, Walker said, "I just haven't thought much about (the H1N1 virus). But you start hearing it more and more, so it's something I actually have to be careful with."

Tampa Bay Lightning being vigilant while guarding against swine flu 10/31/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 1, 2009 12:44pm]
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