Zdeno Chara is well aware of the reality that faces the NHL right now. That when, or if, the presently paused season returns, things are going to look a little different.
For one, it’s pretty much a guarantee that any restart plan would have to be done without fans in the arena. If the league is to start back up, it also would entail some sort of scheduling gymnastics. Does the NHL pick up where the regular season left off and play things out as normal? Does it just go right to the playoffs, maybe allowing 24 teams in?
Nothing is perfect. During a town hall with season ticket holders Tuesday morning, the Boston Bruins captain shared his thoughts on the potential restart of the league.
“It’s a very tough question,” Chara said. “I think that the league and the NHL players’ association are trying to work it out, so I think they are almost talking daily trying to figure out the best scenario, best options for the teams who were actually pretty secure in the playoff position, but also for the teams that are kind of on the edge of the playoffs. Whether we are going to play some regular-season games or we are going to jump right into some sort of a playoff format, it’s still unknown.
“I just prefer to play hockey, to be honest with you. Whether it’s jumping into the playoffs or playing some sort of games to get ready for the playoffs, you’ve just got to go with the flow.”
Most players agree that it would be unusual to play without fans, Chara included. But while the defenseman admitted it would be weird playing in empty arenas, he equated it to early days of hockey.
“That’s what it’s going to be if we start, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We won’t be able to have fans in the stands. But you know what? It will kind of bring memories from back in the years we played as kids. We didn’t have really any fans in the stands — I know once I came over to play juniors in the Western Hockey League I was amazed. There were five, six, 10 thousand fans watching games. But back home we didn’t have that many fans watching at all. So definitely, it’s going to be something different, something we’re going to have to get used to. But yeah, I guess that’s the only way we can continue to play at this point.
Chara joins goalie Tuukka Rask as having a “glass half full” outlook on the situation.