Daly: NHL still not expecting to have full arenas this season

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and commissioner Gary Bettman discuss the steps taken to maintain a healthy and safe environment in their buildings to allow fans to be able to return in the limited capacity that they have.

We’ve seen in recent months various NHL teams be allowed to host spectators in a limited capacity as COVID-19 restrictions ease in some North American jurisdictions.

For example, MSG Sports announced Monday it’ll be easier for fans to attend New York Rangers home games starting April 1 with a press release stating “fans can utilize antigen testing or provide proof of full vaccination to gain entry to Madison Square Garden.”

Does this mean the NHL could see full arenas at any point during the shortened 2020-21 campaign?

“With vaccinations coming online and coming online rapidly, obviously we’re going to have to evaluate what that means. What that means vis-à-vis players, what that means vis-à-vis fans and the like,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday during an appearance on Hockey Central. “We are updating our spectator capacity guidelines. Currently it does not take into account necessarily vaccination, but I think most of the significant changes that you’ll see in terms of where we are this year won’t really be effectuated or implemented until next season.”

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As of Monday, 12 of the NHL’s 31 teams had hosted limited fans at games this season with more teams expected to begin allowing spectators this month.

“There no doubt will be further changes as we go forward this year but we’re past the halfway mark,” Daly added. “We move into a situation where we start playoffs in early May – hopefully, knock on wood. I’m not sure you’re going to see huge changes this year in terms of what you’ve seen to this point other than I think that things will continue to improve, get better, environments get better, but I don’t think (this season) we’ll be back to where we were pre-pandemic.”


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