The National Hockey League has done a great job of navigating the pandemic and getting through as close to a full regular season as possible in spite of the fact that many believed they wouldn't be able to pull it off. Even though the league has done a great job however I would argue that this season had a very different feel thanks in large part to one reason, the noticeable lack of fan interaction.
Buildings around the league, for the most part, were empty throughout the majority of the regular season but as we got further and further into the pandemic more and more teams slowly started to let fans trickle into the building. Now as we head into the playoffs there are a number of teams that will welcome a relatively large number of fans to their home games and I genuinely believe that this could prove to be a competitive edge for the teams that will be allowed to do so. Just recently Golden Knights owner Bill Foley went so far as to admit that he also believes it could prove to be a competitive advantage for his team.
"That's our goal," said Foley in regards to bringing fans back into the building. "That’s our competitive advantage, our fans. They are rabid."
There's long been a cliche in the sports world that would lead you to believe that Fans are the "6th man" at any given point in a game, because when a building is roaring it can motivate players to even greater heights of skill than normal. It's no coincidence that several professional players, across several different sports, have expressed their concerns over games simply not feeling the same without fans in the building.
With that in mind here's a look at how many fans each team will be allowed to have in their building at any given time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something that could be bad news for the Canadian teams in the league.
Nashville Predators : 12,135 in attendance
Carolina Hurricanes : 10,000 - 12,000 in attendance
Pittsburgh Penguins : 9,193 in attendance following Game 1 (limited to 5,000)
Florida Panthers : Over 9,000 in attendance
St. Louis Blues : 9,000 in attendance
Colorado Avalanche : 7,750 in attendance
Las Vegas Golden Knights : 7,567 in attendance
Tampa Bay Lightning : 7,000 in attendance
New York Islanders : 6,800 in attendance
Washington Capitals : 5,000 in attendance
Minnesota Wild : 4,500 in attendance
Boston Bruins : 4,291 in attendance
And last but not least the Canadian teams.
Edmonton Oilers : 0
Montreal Canadiens : 0
Toronto Maple Leafs : 0
Winnipeg Jets : 0
Photo Credit: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune/Zuma