Coronavirus concerns has NHL considering all options, will Rangers play to empty arena?

New York State has called a “State of Emergency” due to the Coronavirus. Last night, the Rangers did not allow the media into the locker room. Instead they sent out Igor Shesterkin, Marc Staal, and Mika Zibanejad to answer questions at a dais. While there is exploratory talk of playing games with no one in the stands, the NHL is still considering all options.

“We’re considering every conceivable option that may be because what’s happening is evolving not only on a day-to-day basis in terms of us staying on top of developments, but it’s almost hour to hour,” Bettman said. “We are considering — no formal announcement. Some clubs may be focusing on this on their own, but as you all know the locker room is a very intimate environment and players are not always fully clothed and it may be best to have media accessibility at a podium for everybody’s health and safety, not just the players’ but [the media’s].

Gary Bettman via
Bettman (NHL)

It’s Happening Elsewhere

You think it’s not possible to play a game at MSG without fans? Well in Italy that’s exactly what they are doing due to the virus outbreak. Soccer as many of you know is a big deal in Europe and a religion in Italy. They have played games with spectators but that may change and continue through April.

Playing in empty stadiums could be the only way to keep the league going until the end in light of the restrictions that the government is rightly indicating,” Marotta said after a meeting at the Serie A headquarters in Rome, but before the decree was announced. Four Serie A matches went ahead last weekend with fans present as they were taking place in areas that had not been affected by measures to control the outbreak.


So will the NHL and in particular the Rangers play in front of an empty Garden? The hope is no, because if they do that means the safety of the fans is truly in jeopardy. Should the number of Coronavirus infections escalate the league and Rangers may have no choice.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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