Two NHL referees return after mumps diagnosis

Linesman Steve Miller, center, keeps Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley (6) and Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) apart during the second period of Game 6 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series in Dallas, Sunday, April 27, 2014. (LM Otero/AP)

SAN JOSE — While National Hockey League teams disinfect dressing rooms and line up for their mumps shots, the NHL team that is the toughest to monitor has thus far avoided a major outbreak.

Two NHL officials — referee Eric Furlatt and linesman Steve Miller — were diagnosed with the mumps last month. Both missed games, but have since returned to action.

“They had the mumps back in November when it first came out,” the NHL’s Director of Officiating, Stephen Walkom, told Sportsnet Thursday. “We had two guys diagnosed, and our team doctor has everybody do what all the teams have been doing. We’ve put everyone on notice.

“It happened to us a month ago and we haven’t had a reoccurrence since, knock wood. You don’t know where it started. Not a clue. But our team doctor has done an excellent job.”

NHL clubs have clearly had their difficulties stopping the outbreak, despite a relatively controlled environment inside their dressing rooms and charter planes. NHL officials fly commercially with the general public, and do not work as a four-man, or even a two-man unit for any consistent period of time.

They are in and out of rinks, changing teammates nightly, and waiting around airport terminals just like you and I to catch their next flight to the next city. Walkom oversees 66 NHL officials, plus a handful of bubble officials who move up and down from the American Hockey League.

In the cases of Furlatt and Miller, Walkom said, “Those two guys had never even worked together this season.”