Mumps 2: The ReMumpening

The Vancouver Canucks have mumps.

Mumps, a nasty little virus that causes hilarious yet painful swelling of the salivary glands, is highly contagious. Transferred through saliva, it is currently laying waste to Toronto’s bar scene. The NHL had its first mumps outbreak in 2014 – you may remember this iconic image:

Of course it happened to Sid. Of course it did. 

The outbreak passed, teams gave out booster shots, and everyone promptly forgot that dozens of professional athletes had the mumps. But now the virus is back to terrorize the hapless Canucks, leaving us all with the question: What caused the Great ReMumpening?

Several theories have been floated, ranging from the mundane (sharing water bottles) to the disgusting (saliva spray during checking) to the tragically improbable (hot player-on-player action.) But the fact remains that this is a group of health-conscious adult men in peak physical fitness. What are they doing with a 19th century children’s disease?

The answer may be surprisingly simple. Before 1996, the prevailing wisdom in Canada was that we only needed to be inoculated against mumps once. Now, the recommendation is that children need to get the mumps vaccine twice. This means that Canadians born  between 1970 and 1992 are still susceptible to mumps even though they  received their childhood vaccination. The NHL is mostly comprised of Canadians born between 1970 and 1992. If they’re anything like every other Canadian Millennial, their parents lost their yellow immunization card circa 1998. Like all those poor saps who got infected on West Queen West last week, they probably didn’t know that they were supposed to get inoculated twice and have now passed on Canada’s most unfortunate export since Justin Bieber to their international teammates.

The Canucks aren’t exactly playoff-bound this year, but if the outbreak spreads, other Western Conference teams could find themselves incapacitated at a crucial point in the season. The Canucks play the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night. Brent Burns was born in Barrie in 1985.

I hope he’s had his booster shot.

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Five Things Seen and Observed at the 2017 CWHL All-Star Game

  1. There is absolutely an audience for women’s hockey.

There’s a persistent argument that the reason women’s sports don’t get much attention is that there simply isn’t an audience for them. 8000 people attended Saturday’s game, and while some shitty dudes predictably whined about it online, the social media response has been overwhelmingly positive. The crowd at the game was an impressive mix of ages and genders and the level of enthusiasm and crowd engagement was on par with any Leafs or Marlies games I’ve been to. If it’s good hockey, Canadians are going to watch it. Not airing or discussing or writing about women’s hockey because “there’s no audience for it” is an excuse borne out of laziness as much as sexism.

2. Haters gonna hate.

Poor Brandon. (I’m using Brandon here, but you can substitute any generic hockey bro name.) Brandon had to watch a commercial for women’s hockey and now he is Mad Online™. Brandon does not like women because his mom told him to stop playing Overwatch and put his Meninist shirt in the hamper. Brandon logs on to Twitter and tweets “Women’s hockey? I’d rather watch paint dry!” so that the other Pepe the Frog avatars will now that Brandon is a Real Man™ and not a media party cuck like James Mirtle.

3. Tween girls will be total goofs if given the opportunity.

That weird limbo between childhood and adolescence is a tricky time for girls. Between peer pressure, the media, and the daily reality of patriarchy, they’re encouraged to abruptly leave childhood behind and devote their entire existence to what boys think of them. The CWHL All-Star Game was packed with tweenage girls and as it turns out, when there’s no pressure on them to be anything but hockey fans, tween girls are goofy as hell. They giggle, they shriek, they dance like dorks to make their friends laugh. They flail around on the Jumbotron and tackle each other for free t-shirts. In a judgement-free setting where powerful women are celebrated and applauded, little girls can feel free to be little girls.

4. The hockey world needs to quit sleeping on Jess Jones.

Forget the women’s game – Jess Jones is one of the world’s best hockey players full stop.  The Brampton Thunder forward was drafted into the CWHL after a dominant stint in the EWHL, and her explosive speed and uncanny hockey sense have led to a team-leading 32 point season. (In the scoring race, she sits only behind Ann-Sophie Bettez and Marie-Philip Poulin, who are maybe the world’s best hockey players.) Jones scored a hat trick for Team White at the All-Star Game, and probably had the most vocal cheering section in the building. And yet she remains a relative unknown outside of a small circle of Thunder fans. When Jess Jones is on the ice, the game becomes nine players chasing Jess Jones. She is a generational talent, and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as players like Natalie Spooner or Meaghan Mikkelson.

5. There’s no wrong way to be a woman.

Whether you’re tall and willowy or short and squat, whether you’re blonde or brunette, whether you’re butch or femme, there’s a place for you in women’s hockey. You can tuck your hair up under your helmet or tie it back in an elaborate braid. You can ring your eyes in black eyeliner like Natalie Spooner or wear no makeup at all like Jamie-Lee Rattray. You can play a physical game like Rebecca Vint or a finesse game like Jill Saulnier. In the CWHL, you can be whoever you want to be in whatever way you want to be, and no one will tell you you’re doing it wrong.

On Nazem Kadri, Donald Trump, and Keeping Politics Out of Hockey

Nazem Kadri first voiced his disapproval of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban in November of 2015:

“I think he’s pretty delusional. But his opinion’s his opinion…[T]hat being said, I’m lucky to live in a country like Canada, where people of political stature don’t say those kinds of things to make people feel out of place.”

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