Team needs shot in arm

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- For the past couple of weeks, Morris Boyer has been dealing with the sniffles as much as those wonky shoulders, sore knees and bumps and bruises.

The Calgary Flames head athletic therapist has been coping with the usual maladies that come throughout a hockey season -- actually, the Flames have been pretty fortunate in the injury department so far this season -- but a flu virus that swept through the team kept Boyer busy.

"Every year, you hear of it sweeping through a team and it's our turn. I guess this is our year," he said. "You do what you can, I have notes up around the room about washing hands, not sharing towels, but sometimes you just can't control it.

"There's their family at home, kids from school. You can't really prevent it."

To date, only one player was pushed to the sidelines for a game -- Michael Cammalleri in Chicago -- but plenty of players, including captain Jarome Iginla, had their time feeling ill.

Exacerbating the problem was the club's heavy schedule.

All NHL teams give their players flu shots, but the Flames have been so busy for the last two weeks, it couldn't be done, and not because they couldn't be bothered to get around to it.

"Ideally, you want two days between games," Boyer explained. "(Starting today), we've got four days between games and it's an opportunity. It gives them a chance to build up some antibodies to the flu shot."

Only once since Oct. 21 have the Flames enjoyed more than one day between games. They had two after playing in Phoenix Oct. 25, but that followed an early-morning arrival from Arizona.

"This schedule has been so steady, there hasn't been an ideal time," Boyer said. "Some guys might get a little sluggish. You don't get the flu from a flu shot, but guys might feel tired."

The Flames decided to stay in San Jose for an extra couple of sleeps after last night's game against the Sharks for some team bonding and rest after playing eight times in 13 days in four different time zones before their next tilt, Tuesday at home to the Colorado Avalanche.

Which means the doctors will gather those who want their shots today -- about two-thirds of the players (it's voluntary) -- and dish them out.

"Hopefully, now, the flu is gone anyway," said centre Craig Conroy. "I don't know if we need them. I think we've all gone through our bug time."

Amazingly, this is the second wave of sickness to go through the dressing room. In the pre-season, several players fell ill. Matthew Lombardi seemed the hardest hit and barely recovered in time to play the season-opener.

Hindsight being 20/20, maybe the Flames should have had their shots before their schedule turned so crazy.

"We might have been able to, but it might not have been a bad strain," Boyer said. "It may not have been the strain we got. Luckily, what's gone through the team has been short-duration sickness, you can call it a 24-hour flu.


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