VANCOUVER - Left-winger Chris Higgins stayed home with a mysterious hand problem as the Vancouver Canucks departed for a three-game California road trip Tuesday.
Coach Alain Vigneault said the team believes the problem is related to a foot issue, originally described as a staph infection, that kept the 28-year-old out of two games earlier this month.
"His hand was all swollen up, so he's gone to the hospital again," Vigneault said after Canucks practice. "We're not exactly sure what it is, but we're sort of assuming that it's the same thing he had on his foot."
The foot problem, which also included severe swelling, was treated with what Vigneault previous described as "medication." The coach said potential remedies this time may include antibiotics.
Vigneault planned to decide whether to call up a player from the minors later Tuesday once tests on Higgins were complete and the club had more information.
Higgins, who ranks fifth in team scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists, has enjoyed a career renaissance since joining the Canucks at last season's trade deadline.
"Mike (Burnstein, the team's trainer) looked at him and his first reaction was, he probably has this virus," Vigneault said. "It's tough to deal with viruses, so they're going to do the best they can to pinpoint the exact nature of it."
The Canucks play Wednesday in San Jose, Thursday in Anaheim and Saturday in Los Angeles. If Higgins recovers sufficiently, he will join the team at some point on the road trip.