ST. LOUIS – The Red Wings received a bit of bad news prior to starting the 2013 season against the Blues on Saturday when they learned that forward Todd Bertuzzi will miss weeks after he contracted mononucleosis.
Bertuzzi’s extended absence is a devastating blow to the Wings’ third forward line, which already enters this compressed season without speedy center Darren Helm, who is on injured reserve with a bad back.
Coach Mike Babcock has decided to press Jan Mursak into service on the third line over Patrick Eaves, who, just this week, was cleared to return by the team’s medical staff after missing 14 months with concussion-like symptoms.
“One guy hasn’t played hockey in a year,” Babcock said, Saturday afternoon. “I’m going to be like you, I’m going to watch (Mursak) play tonight and if you play good, you play more. I don’t know how much ‘more’ is at this time of the year when you haven’t had any training camp, but is more 18-minutes? I hope to God when I look at the sheet after the game that no one’s at 22 (minutes) as far as a forward goes. I hope that I’ve used everybody and everybody was important. That’s sure my plan.”
Colloquially refer to as the ‘kissing disease’, mononucleosis is a viral infection that causes fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands, especially in the neck. Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and goalie Jimmy Howard have had the infection in the past, which wasn’t fun.
“There's no beating around the bush, it sucks,” Howard said. “You're constantly fatigued; all you want to do is sleep. I was out pretty much the whole summer going into my junior year (in college).
“All I remember is being extremely tired and my throat just swelling up. You're extremely tired; it doesn't take much to leave you extremely drained. No appetite. Just slept.”
However, Smith, who said he had the disease when he was a teenager, wasn’t immediately diagnosed.
“I kept playing with it, so I didn't know I had it until later,” he said. “I was just tired. I got checked up and they said my spleen was enlarged, so I'm lucky nothing ever happened.”
As for Helm, he skated by himself after the team’s morning skate at Scottrade Center. He said he felt could, but was precautious.
“I glided for a good half-hour, pushed off strongly a few times,” he said. “It felt good, though. It didn't hurt at all skating. I guess we'll see what happens this afternoon, tomorrow morning.”
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