BOSTON (CBS) — The world of sports is starting to feel the impact of coronavirus, with many leagues throughout Europe opting to play games in empty stadiums. It’s an idea that has been talked about in the U.S., but one that the stars of their respective leagues don’t seem very fond of.
LeBron James has spoken out about playing games with no fans in attendance. That got plenty of people talking because he’s LeBron James, and an NBA game being played in an empty gym conjures up quite the imagery.
Now imagine the NHL potentially doing the same thing, but for a playoff game. It’s something Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron has a hard time picturing.
“That’s been tossed around a little bit and I know they did it in Europe and in Switzerland. That would be tough,” said Bergeron. “Obviously, we often say that [the fans] are the seventh player. They’re the guys we’re playing for. We’re playing for ourselves and the love of the game, obviously, but the atmosphere, the energy, they’re the ones who create that. It would be a big void. It would be tough, really tough.”
Bergeron recently spoke with former Bruins teammate Jordan Caron, who is now playing in Switzerland. Caron told Bergeron that playing games in a lifeless arena has been difficult because they’ve felt more like a practice.
On Monday, fellow Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk had a tough time imagining an empty TD Garden on a game day.
“I don’t know if I can. I’ve played in rinks where there weren’t many fans,” he joked. “But that kind of brings an element to the game. We play for each other in here and for the fans. There is nothing like getting the Garden rocking.
“I don’t think [it would be fun],” DeBrusk said of a fan-less Bruins game. “It would definitely be different, especially if it was later in the year, maybe the playoffs. I hope that doesn’t happen.”
For now, the Bruins aren’t thinking too much about coronavirus. It’s certainly a topic that needs to be discussed, and one that has led to a lot more hands being washed and bottles of sanitizer being used.
But they’re not going to get hysterical about it. They’ll listen to what doctors have to say, and hope that keeps them healthy heading into the most important part of the season.
“It’s one of those things where it’s out of your control,” said Bergeron. “Listen to the advice we’re given and to the doctors. Be careful, wash your hands — the basics that we know when it’s flu season. But obviously this is different; there is a lot of unknown that goes with it so we’re trying to be careful. You don’t want to panic, either, and you want to stay even keeled. We’ll see what happens and what unfolds out of it going forward.”
“Yeah, it’s kind of spreading, so wash your hands and stuff like that, I guess,” said DeBrusk. “Hopefully it calms down. It gives you a little bit of a scare for everybody, and you’re wondering if it’s in Boston, New York, big cities. It’s a thing, but it doesn’t really change our day-to-day. Maybe it should. But I’m kind of pretty low key, so I don’t go out in big groups all the time.”
While there is a lot of unknown flying through the air, it’s safe to say that these hockey players never thought they’d be asked to play doctor.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Bergeron. “Hopefully it kind of calms down and we can all talk about hockey.”