Patrice Bergeron is used to playing in a sold-out TD Garden. Any dip in attendance — let alone a near-empty arena — would be jarring for the Boston Bruins center.
The NHL, like many professional sports leagues around the world, is prepared to take necessary — though unattractive — action amid the coronavirus outbreak. Among other things, the league is considering playing games without any fans in the stands.
NBA superstar LeBron James recently claimed he’d refuse to play in empty arenas, should the NBA go that route. And while Bergeron on Monday didn’t quite echo those sentiments, he did express concern over the possibility of playing in a practice-like environment.
“That’s been tossed around a little bit. I know they did that in Switzerland a little bit. I was talking to Jordan Caron (playing in Geneva) and that would be tough,” Bergeron said, via NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. “We often say that (the fans) are the seventh player and that’s who we are playing for. We’re playing for ourselves obviously, but it’s also the atmosphere and the energy. They are the ones that create it. That would be a big void. It would be tough. It would be really tough.
“Caron said the last few games it felt like a practice. It was really weird and it was hard. (We’ve) never really done that, so it’s definitely a different-feeling atmosphere and now they’re just waiting.”
Whether the NHL — or any United States professional sports league, for that matter — eventually bars fans from attending games remains to be seen. The unprecedented action nevertheless is on the table.
The NHL-leading Bruins will return to the ice Tuesday night when they visit the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers.