Retired NHL player Georges Laraque hospitalized with COVID-19

While the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk from the new coronavirus, even the relatively young and healthy can also be susceptible.

A prime example of that is former National Hockey League (NHL) star Georges Laraque, who, from a hospital bed in Montreal, Canada, informed his fans via social media this weekend about his fight with COVID-19, USA Today reported.

Former hockey star battles COVID-19

Laraque revealed in a Facebook Live video on Saturday — in which he spoke both French and English — that he began to feel symptoms about a week prior and went to a doctor to get checked out, only to be initially denied a test for COVID-19 and sent home with some medicine after having chest X-rays taken.

However, he was called back by the hospital the next day and was informed that a mistake had been made, and he actually had pneumonia in both lungs. He was thus admitted to the hospital, tested for coronavirus, and placed on oxygen due to his asthma, though he didn’t require intubation.

As a retired professional hockey player, not to mention a vegan, Laraque has maintained a rigorous fitness and nutritional regimen — the virus hit him in the middle of his daily training for an upcoming marathon — but the illness still knocked him flat on his back.

After explaining that he’d been running upwards of 10 kilometers six days a week, he said, “Now I can’t even get up without losing my breath… It’s insane.”

Laraque on the mend

Coughing intermittently throughout the video message, Laraque explained that the fever and sweats, which mostly came at night, were the worst aspect of his COVID-19 experience.

“The nights are the worst. At night, I have fevers a couple times a night. I have to get up and take pills. I wake up in sweats all the time,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I’m not the only one fighting this. I don’t feel sorry for myself. It’s okay, this is what happens in life.”

There was some good news for Laraque to share by Monday, however, as he revealed in a video update that his condition had markedly improved, and he had been cleared for release from the hospital, though he would be required to isolate and quarantine himself at home for the next two weeks.

Illness spares no one

According to HockeyDB, an online database of hockey statistics, Laraque began playing hockey on the amateur level in Canada in 1992 and eventually got his break at the professional level with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1997-98 season. He ended up playing in the NHL with the Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Pittsburgh Penguins until he finally retired as a member of the Montreal Canadians following the 2009-10 season.

Laraque was the quintessential “tough guy” on the ice and often played the role of “enforcer” on his teams, spending a remarkable 1,126 minutes in the penalty box over the course of his career.

The fact that even this physically fit and health-conscious brute of a hockey player could be laid low by the virus should be a clear signal that everyone, to some extent or another, faces a very real risk of infection from COVID-19.

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