Bruins' Zdeno Chara confirms any NHL return will include empty arenas, no fans


This has essentially been confirmed by Bruins season ticket holders getting credits, or refunds, for the remaining home games for the NHL regular season, but B’s captain Zdeno Chara confirmed on Tuesday that NHL games will be played in empty arenas if they do complete the 2019-20 season over the summer.

The 43-year-old Bruins captain was part of a virtual town hall with Bruins season ticket holders on Tuesday morning, and said that it’s already a foregone conclusion that there will be no fans in the stands.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Certainly, there are plenty of things to be worked out with scenarios on the table to either A) finish out the regular season or B) go right into an extended playoff tournament with play-in games for teams on the cusp of the postseason.

But one thing they do know at this point is that the arena situation will be like something most of these players haven’t experienced since their very early days playing hockey.

“Whether we’re going to play some regular season games or we’re going to jump right into some sort of a playoff format, it’s still unknown. I just prefer to play hockey, so if it’s jumping into the playoff or playing some regular season games to get ready for the playoffs? You’ve just got to go with the flow,” said Chara, who estimated it would take “at least 3 or 4 weeks until we’re comfortable” to get ready to play again after two months off the ice while in self-quarantine since early March.

“[Empty arenas] is what it’s going to be if we start. That’s for sure. We won’t be able to have fans in the stands. But you know what? It will kind of bring back memories to the years when we were kids and there weren’t any fans in the stands. Once I came over to [North America] to play juniors in the Western Hockey League, I was amazed there were 5, 6, 10,000 fans in the stands watching games. We didn’t have that back home. No fans at all. It definitely will be different and will be something to get used to, but I guess that’s the only way we can continue to play at this point.”

The empty arenas is only one part of the NHL equation, obviously, with access to fast, easy COVID-19 testing and pinpointing designated areas to host games as major parts of any return strategy over the next few months.

Certainly, holding games in empty arenas for the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be a financial hit to the NHL. It remains to be seen how much that will impact the salary cap moving forward for the next couple of seasons, but at least the NHL and NHLPA sound like they are getting on the same page with ground rules to get things going for a continuation of the 2019-20 season.

Contact Us