With yesterday's news that the Washington Capitals'(and JtG's favorite shot blocker) Quintin Laing has the Swine Flu (H1N1 virus), along with reports from various NHL cities about how the virus is infecting their players, I think it's time to ask the big question: What if this gets serious?
The majority of NHL players these days are in the 18-30 range that seems to be the most affected by this strain of flu. What happens if the majority of a team comes down with the flu and can't field a team? What happens to a Cup contender if its superstar or starting goalie misses a significant amount of time with H1N1 (in Laing's case, he's not allowed near the team until he's sympton free...often weeks in the case of the flu). It may be something the NHL (and likely, every other major professional sports league) will need to address.
The next question is 'What about the Olympics?' There will be various qualification events this fall to determine who makes the cut for the Winter Olympics. I'm almost guaranteeing that one 'favorite' is going to come down with the swine flu and miss his or her qualifier. Will Olympic teams make exceptions in these cases, or is the 'next best' athlete taking that person's place? In the case of hockey, someone is inevitably going to miss the Games because they've contracted the virus. The H1N1 could turn favorites into 'DNQ's and completely throw the Winter Sports scene on it's head.