Thursday, January 13, 2005



In the past, I would always scoff when I saw a player missed a game due to the ‘flu’.

Couldn’t these guys – who make millions of dollars – play through a few sniffles, sneezes, and watery eyes?

After my recent bout with a nasty case of the flu, I can understand why some players would choose not to play with the flu. I had a hard enough time doing my (easy) accounting job and my gym workouts thanks to weakened muscles, stuffed sinuses, watery eyes, and mild dizziness. I can’t imagine doing any activity that required a high level of physical exertion in the state I was in.

So, while fighting with this damned virus, I stopped to think: What would Jesus Demitra do? Hockey players have to do with colds and flues all the time - so why not emulate the pros?

The answer: SUDAFED!

As Michael Farber wrote in a 1998 pre-Nagano piece, Sudafed is hockey’s dirty little secret:

The exact number of players who use Sudafed, a nonprescription drug that contains the stimulant pseudoephedrine, in an effort to boost their performance on the ice, is unclear. Two NHL trainers estimate that before a game 20% of the league's players routinely take over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine, not to combat the sniffles, as the manufacturers intended, but to feel a little buzz.

... Sudafed remains the most popular choice for players who want a pick-me-up....
So I could feel a buzz and relieve some of my flu symptoms? Cool!

Of course, being the smart guy that I am, I decided to do a little more research.

Thus, I came upon this wacky story about Andrei Trefilov during his tenure with the Buffalo Sabres:

Dominik Hasek recalled one of the times that Andrei played for Buffalo in his autobiography. Andrei had taken 12 tablets of "Sudafed" before a game. It's most widely used if you have a cold, but It's also classified as a performance enhancing drug. It is perfectly legal in the NHL but banned over in leagues around Europe and in the Olympics. Taking one or two might be ok, but Andrei took 12 just before a game against Tampa Bay.

" Three minutes before the end of the game a couple of my teammates approached me on the bench and told me to get ready", Hasek wrote.
" Dominik, get ready, it looks like you're going in, 'Trefi' overdosed." Andrei had called one of the defensemen over and asked him: "How much is left of the game ?". What do you mean, how much ?", the surprised defenseman asked." Up there you have a giant clock, look for yourself". Well, I don't see that clock very well", Andrei replied.

Andrei managed to finish the game, but I would think twice about taking more than the recommended dosage.

Which is exactly what I did – 2 tablets, every 4 hours. Maximum 8 tablets a day.

What a gyp! Not only did I not get any kind of ‘buzz’, but I’m not all that sure that the Sudafed helped my flu symptoms. Maybe I should have taken the whole package ala Trefilov!

Really, I get more buzz from a Starbucks Latte than the Sudafed I popped. The next time I play hockey or any sort, I’ll just knock back a double espresso or a Red Bull.

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