If you saw the team captains fist-bump each other and the on-ice guests prior to Sunday's Saskatoon Blades-Moose Jaw Warriors' game at SaskTel Centre, it's all in following the Western Hockey League's attempt to prevent the possible spread of the mumps virus.
Players from Brandon and Medicine Hat have been sidelined by the mumps over the past month and the W-H-L ordered teams to limit player interaction with fans as a result. Blades president Steve Hogle says the switch to the fist bump is to stop the spread of the virus.
“Traditionally we have a handshake after that ceremonial puck drop, right now we are just having the players fist bump our guests and do it with their gloves on. We just want to do everything within our power to prevent the mumps from getting a hold here.”
Hogle added that recent and upcoming community events that would normally involve players will now be attended by staff members, alumni, cheerleaders and mascots...until such time as the mumps scare passes. Meanwhile, Saskatoon associate general manager Steve Hildebrand says the players have all been checked up to ensure they are mumps-free.
“It’s one of the first things we did is to make sure that not only the players but staff included as well.”
As far as the players go we made sure they had all their vaccinations ahead of time and everyone’s good.”
Hildebrand says the Blades have been continually sanitising dressing room and training facilities for several years.