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Hockey has been in mind all week and even the mere discussion of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs has excited fans for the return of their favorite sport – even if things will look different this time around. .

While the majority of the new rules and procedures were established on Tuesday thanks to Commissioner Gary Bettman, there is still a lot of unknown territory. This format has never been done before, but having a plan in place is the first step to turning concepts into something tangible.

One of the biggest changes will not be the additional eight teams, the locations of major cities, or the fact that the NHL has the potential to last until the end of the summer, but rather the element – or its absence – presence of fans.

Fan and player safety is undoubtedly the highest priority and as we adjust to the “new standard” for the foreseeable future, this is just one of the many things that will have to be endured.

On the surface, it stinks. Surprisingly, you are allowed to feel that, while being excited about the hopeful comeback of the league and the games. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are among the most exciting weeks in any sport and much of this is due to the atmosphere created by the fans who gather behind their favorite teams.

So, without them, will games lose their authenticity and lower the level of general interest?

Absolutely not.

Fans are thirsty for the time when they would have live sports to look forward to and even if that means they can’t be physically in the stands, it doesn’t take away from the level of devotion they have.

Sure, it will be different – it’s undeniable, but someone should rightly be awarded the Stanley Cup for 2019-20. There are a handful of options to help fill the void, such as playing fan reaction videos on arena vision screens during exciting game moments. Hearing the “crowd” through the screen would certainly add a level of normality, even if it did not completely reproduce the atmosphere.

There are new moments fans can also look forward to – the sights and sounds that are often smeared with cheers or hoots. Impeccable stopping on skates, receiving a puck, solid control along the boards, team-to-team twittering and post-goal celebrations.

In addition, if things are too calm, it is possible to get a glimpse of life on the bench with the players. Hearing teammates interact is always nice when they’re ready for games, so can you imagine having that for 60 minutes? It would be new to everyone, but what a fun concept it would be.

This is a great opportunity to see things half full, rather than finding negative aspects to this plan. There are still a lot of moving parts before the playoffs come back to reality, but if things are really done in a safe way – I say make the most of the current situation and drop that puck.

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