We all know the upcoming 24-team playoff tournament will be different from everyone, especially since there will be no fans in attendance at the games in both hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the game and we know fans might not be allowed for long time in the stands of the NHL arenas.
However on Tuesday, some fans were hurt by false hope when reporters in Columbus revealed that some fans were in line to watch the Blue Jackets’ scrimmage that evening.
Insider Jeff Svoboda posted a picture of 10 fans, wearing masks, standing outside the Ice Haus. One even had brought popcorn to the event. It did not take long for many other fans to start asking questions above the fans standing in line outside the arena, wondering if they were attending the game inside or just watching the action from the windows.
Svoboda had no choice but to investigate and realize that, while these fans had come all the way to the arena for the scrimmage, they were not allowed in. They ended up watching the game from the windows.
We all know the Blue Jackets would have gotten in trouble if fans were allowed in the arena. The NHL and governments have been watching what teams are doing closely to make sure no one is contagious before coming to the hub cities on July 26.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who will face the Jackets in a best of five series in the qualifying round, got in trouble last week when they used AHL officials who as part in their scrimmages. The NHL objected to the club’s use of officials, with concerns around safety under the Phase 3 Return to Play Guidelines.
We can only assume the Jackets would face similar or even worse reprimands if they had fans in the building, that’s why it has been made clear that they stayed outside to watch the action.