Without Fans, NHL Players Struggle With Daily Intensity

In the event you’re wondering how NHL players are faring without fans … well, they’re OK. Just OK. Or so some NHL players say.

“Playoffs are playoffs,” Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson said, via the Columbus Dispatch. “It doesn’t take much to get up for those because there’s so much on the line. Not that there’s not during the regular season, but it’s just different.”

The NHL season started earlier this month, but unlike other sports leagues, teams are only playing opponents in their own division. That means Canadian teams only playing Canadian opponents. That will change for the playoffs, but the 56-game regular season is set in stone, or on ice. Basically, nothing is about to change.

And that includes the memory of jam-packed arenas and cheers from the home fans, or boos from those who are rooting heartily for opposing teams to fail. For now, the players will just have to find a way to motivate themselves while performing to the sounds of silence.

Sold-out arenas are “the juice,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “That’s what makes it a game, quite honestly. That’s what gives it an excitement. Players are entertainers. They want to play in front of someone.

“I’m not sure that’s in our near future, judging by what’s going on in our world, so we can’t be concerned about that. We need to generate playing the right way and playing with the right amount of energy each and every game.” 

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.

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  1. The road trips must be brutal. The don’t play a lot of back to backs in hockey. Here’s Pittsburgh this week:

    TUE @BOS
    WED OFF
    THR @BOS
    FRI OFF
    SAT @NYR
    SUN OFF
    MON @NYR

    You’re pretty much stuck in your Hotel the rest of the time. The Caps just got a big fine and had to put 4 of their Russians in Covid timeout because they had an unauthorized get together in a Hotel room on a road trip.

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