Montreal Canadiens Could Be Playing a Game With No Fans Next Week

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 30: Montreal Canadiens fans. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 30: Montreal Canadiens fans. (Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens have the best fans in hockey. The Bell Centre is one of the greatest atmospheres around the NHL, especially when the team is playing well. The Habs could be playing a game with no fans next week.

The Montreal Canadiens have regularly been playing games in front of some of the biggest crowds in the NHL. They have a raucous following no matter where they are playing. It is not uncommon to see more Canadiens jerseys in the stands than those of the home team when the Habs are on a road trip.

The Habs are about to head out on one of those long road trips next week, but there may not be any Habs fans in the stands for one game. There may be no fans at all at one of those games.

The San  Jose Sharks play their home games in Santa Clara County, which is dealing with a large outbreak of the coronavirus. The county has enacted a ban on gatherings of crowds greater than 1000 for the next three weeks and that will affect at least three games that are scheduled for the Sharks.

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The first of those games will be March 19th when the Canadiens are slated to be in town to face the Sharks. The SAP Center, where the Sharks play their home games, will not be allowed to have a gathering of more than 1000 people. The Sharks are having an awful season, but even they can draw more than 1000 fans to a game.

This means the league will have to come up with another plan for the game. The Habs will not be traveling out west again this year so they can’t just reschedule it for some time in early April when the ban is expected to be lifted. So what are they going to do?

They could still play the game and not allow fans into the arena. They could still allow TSN announcers and tv crew because they would number less than 1000 so we could still watch the game at home. It would be interesting to watch an NHL game with no crowd. We are talking about two teams that have no chance at a playoff spot and only play each other twice per year, so intensity wouldn’t have been high to begin with. With no one in the arena to watch the game, it will be like watching a peewee game without the crazy parents in the stands.

The league could also try to find a neutral site to host the game. This game is scheduled for next Thursday. The Canadiens will already be in California as they play the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Their next game is in Colorado against the Avalanche on Saturday.

The Kings are hosting the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, but the Anaheim Ducks are not home on Thursday, The league could just move the Montreal-San Jose game to Anaheim, where the Habs play on Sunday night. Of course, if they do this, they would be running the risk of a bunch of fans traveling down from San Jose and then just gathering in an arena in Anaheim instead of San Jose.

The NHL would look kind of stupid if they moved a game that was originally scheduled to be played in San Jose to Anaheim and then 10,000 fans showed up from San Jose wearing Sharks jerseys.

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To save themselves from embarrassment, they may just have to go along with the ban of mass gatherings in the area and play with no fans. Even on the other side of the continent, the Canadiens usually have plenty of supporters in the crowd. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but we could see a Habs game with no fans in the stands next week.