Olli Maatta’s season has been a medical nightmare.
Just six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid tumor, the Pittsburgh defenseman has been confirmed to have contracted the mumps, the club announced on Friday.
Maatta, 20, is the third Penguin to come down with the illness in recent weeks. Captain Sidney Crosby and forward Beau Bennett have also had it, with a number of other players tested (also on Friday, the Pens confirmed goaltender Thomas Greiss and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo tested negative.)
It’s unclear how much time Maatta will miss while quarantined. Crosby sat out three games before returning for last night’s win over Colorado; following the aforementioned surgery, Maatta was only sidelined for two weeks before returning to play.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby will return to the lineup tonight when the Pens take on the Avs at Consol, the team has announced:
Crosby’s missed the last three games with the mumps, during which the Pens have gone 2-0-1. No. 87 heads into tonight’s game looking to snap a seven-game goalless drought, though that’s not to say he hasn’t been productive; Crosby has 35 points through 27 games this year and is one back of Philly’s Claude Giroux for the NHL assist lead (27).
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Marc-Andre Fleury tested negative for the mumps and has been cleared to play against the Colorado Avalanche. The rest of the news is murky or downright negative, however.
Backup goalie Thomas Greiss is being tested and kept in isolation. As mentioned on Wednesday, defensemen Olli Maatta and Robert Bortuzzo are also being monitored, as their results are still to be determined.
Sidney Crosby and Beau Bennett have already been confirmed to deal with the problem, so this mumps outbreak is causing serious issues for the Penguins.
We may know more about whether Crosby can play against Colorado later today:
Despite these problems, Pittsburgh beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Monday and hope to improve on a 20-6-4 record tonight.
An update on the mumps-infested Pittsburgh Penguins, per the club:
Sidney Crosby skated on his own before practice today at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford said.
Crosby has passed the infectious period for the mumps. Today was the start of his on- and off-ice preparations to return to the team.
Rutherford also announced that Marc-Andre Fleury, Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta were not feeling well and were being tested for the mumps as a precaution.
All Penguins players were tested for the mumps in early December and all tested negative at that time.
Another Penguin, Beau Bennett, was diagnosed with the mumps yesterday, bringing the total of NHLers infected during the outbreak to 15, per the CP.
Duncan Keith was held out of the Chicago Blackhawks lineup on Tuesday due to illness, and with the mumps spreading throughout the National Hockey League, missing a game because of sickness raises eyebrows.
However, according to multiple reports from Chicago reporters, Blackhawks’ head coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “unlikely” Keith has the mumps, which has recently sidelined Sidney Crosby, the face of the NHL.
The Blackhawks defeated the Minnesota Wild by a final score of 5-3. Afterward, the Blackhawks re-assigned goalie Scott Darling to Rockford in the American Hockey League. However, it remains unclear right now when Chicago can expect Keith back in their lineup.