A couple of days after mingling at a season-ticket holder event, Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin fell ill.
It turned out he had influenza. The virus made the rounds in the locker room, infecting one teammate after another.
The Wings try to take precautions against infectious diseases, and have grown increasingly vigilant in light of the spread of coronavirus. Players are used to fans coming within a few feet of them to request autographs and photographs, and say they have to be smart about handling such situations.
"People enjoy a handshake and a photo, but maybe if it's a first bump, hopefully they'll understand the seriousness and the scare out there," Larkin said Wednesday. "You have to be careful. You do have to be cautious whenever you're out in public."
Larkin said he follows news about the virus "but I don't live my life in fear."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of March 4 there were 80 cases of COVID-19 in the United States, nine of them resulting in fatalities.
"It's a scary situation," forward Sam Gagner said. "You have to be aware of it. You have to make sure you're washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, covering your mouth, making sure you're not shaking too many hands.
"Hopefully, we can keep guys in here from getting infected."
Coach Jeff Blashill said the Wings' medical staff has been in contact with the NHL, but that for now, the emphasis is on basic precautions including hand washing and using hand sanitizer. The NBA released a memo Sunday advising players to forgo high-fives for fist bumps and carrying their own pens for signing autographs.
We've done that with the flu. Our locker room gets cleaned every day.