The COVID-19 pandemic threw the professional sports world for a loop in 2020, leading leagues to make drastic changes in order to resume play.
Many leagues in the United States opted to prohibit fans from attending games to reduce the risk of community spread. The NHL is just one of several leagues to keep fans away from games for the foreseeable future.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak, for one, wasn’t too bothered by the empty arena during the team’s recent playoff run. He did, however, make note of some differences.
“I think the weirdest part was when you just get to warmups,” Halak recently told reporters during a video conference, via the team. “Not seeing any fans in the stands or standing by the glass, that was the weirdest thing.
“… I think once the game started, I think it mattered,” he added. “But at the same time, it was kind of nice not having people there because, actually, you could talk to your (defense) or your forwards and they will hear pretty much everything I’ve (said). … That was the biggest difference.
“But other than that, I think you could hardly notice the noise and stuff.”
Halak believes the lack of crowd had an impact on his team, especially in gritty situations.
“Sometimes, the energy that you get from fans and (them) pushing you forward when you’re down by a goal or two, so, I think that was the hard part for us, or for any team,” he said. “So hopefully, next season there will be fans in the stands and things will be somewhat normal.”
What will next season bring fan-wise? Only time will tell.