The Tampa Bay Times projects there might be a time, Lightning right wing B.J. Crombeen said, he will have to inject himself with insulin during a game or after a practice.
When he does, it will be in his stomach, thigh or, as he said, “anywhere there is a bit of fat.”
But Crombeen, who has Type I diabetes, won’t retreat to the training room or bathroom. He will inject himself while sitting at his dressing stall.
“I don’t want to offend anyone or gross anyone out,” he said Thursday at the Ice Sports Forum. “But it’s something I’ve always tried to be out and open about and not hide it.”
Crombeen, 27, diagnosed when he was 9, said he never has had a dangerous diabetic incident during a game or practice. But with training camp, which opens Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, expected to be an intense seven days before the Jan. 19 opener, precautions must be taken.
So each day, Crombeen, like he does on any practice or game day, will check his blood sugar level 15 to 20 times.
“It’s not like we have to check with him every day and say, ‘What’s your level?’ ” head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan said. “As someone who has dealt with it as long as he has, he knows what to look for. It’s more self-managing for him. For us, it’s important just to be aware.”
There is no ready list of NHL players with diabetes. The most famous was Flyers great Bobby Clarke, whom Crombeen called an inspiration. Lightning prospect Cory Conacher, at AHL Syracuse, also has Type I diabetes. But while he uses an insulin pump strapped to his hip, Crombeen is “old school” and prefers to use a needle.
“As long as you’re willing to take the time to manage it and check your blood and watch what you’re eating, it becomes a way of life,” he said.