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Flames experience a silver lining amid madness of Omicron in NHL



During one of Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving’s Zoom calls last week, he ended with the quip, “Stay positive, test negative.”

At the time, amid the outbreak of Omicron among the players and staff, most were either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms.

If there’s one positive to take from the entire experience, it’s that nobody seemed to suffer much. They’re as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into Thursday’s game in Seattle.

Some fever and chills, aches and pains, sniffles and coughs. For the most part, it was the isolation from teammates and, in some cases, family, that they had to overcome.

“I had some, I guess mild, symptoms but it was OK,” Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane said via Zoom on Tuesday after the team’s second practice after the break.

“It’s tough to kind of sit there for 10 days not doing much. It’s kind of scary for all the guys – you don’t know how their bodies will react, catching COVID and everything. You’re kind of scared for the whole team for a little bit. Thankfully everybody was OK and now it’s time to move on from it.”

There seems to be a lot of that sentiment around the NHL right now. Moving on. Moving forward. Figuring out how to continue to play in the face of Omicron, the very contagious but seemingly mild version of the COVID-19 virus.

The NHL followed in the footsteps of other sports leagues to change their protocol but it remains to be seen whether Canada complicates things and whether provincial guidelines trump the NHL’s new ideas.

The Calgary Flames experience continues to be a wealth of data, anecdotally, at least.

“I got a little bit of symptoms. Nothing too bad,” Flames centre Mikael Backlund said this week. “I had a normal cold two weeks before that was worse. I had a few days where my energy wasn’t super high but other than that, I was fine.”

Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom seemed to get it the worst among those who have talked so far. But even the worst wasn’t so bad.

“I was fairly sick for a day and a half or so. Got better after that, though. Feel good now. Feel good on the ice as well,” Tanev said before expanding a little.

“Probably similar to a flu. I got a little chills, the muscle aches, that sort of stuff.”

Simlarly, Markstrom’s experience lasted a couple of days where he spent a lot of time in bed trying not to stiffen up.

“Everybody got sick. I had probably two days where I was maybe fever and cough and cold-like symptoms,” Markstrom said. “Probably a week ago it pretty much disappeared except for the cough.

Of course, that’s not to suggest we have enough data to know what any longer-term effects might be from the Omicron variant. Its transmissibility alone is causing everyone to be cautious. The cancellation of the World Juniors is another example of that.

It’s encouraging that one of the, ahem, elder members of the organization was also well protected by his vaccinations.

“Everybody gets different levels of symptoms. I had a cold, basically,” said head coach Darryl Sutter. “You get through it. Isolation is the worst part.”

From video games to binging shows or movies, to puzzles, each player found ways to pass the time.

“Movies,” winger Andrew Mangiapane said with a laugh. “I did a puzzle on my last couple of days there. It took a little longer for Amazon to drop off the puzzle for me.”

“I just tried to crush a couple of shows,” said Dillon Dube on Wednesday. “It was tough. You kind of hit that point you miss being in a routine.

“I’m really happy no one got any severe symptoms. Everyone’s healthy and back now. It’s super exciting to be back.”