(Update: The Sharks will play home games without fans for the foreseeable future. Read their updated statement here.)
The Sharks must mull over playing home games in front of an empty arena, or other options, as Santa Clara announced a ban of large events following the first coronavirus-related death in the area.
Santa Clara County officials announced that there will be a ban regarding meetings of people of 1,000 or more. It’s a three-week ban scheduled to go into effect at midnight on Wednesday.
Such a ban would affect the Sharks … eventually, as their next home game at the SAP Center takes place on March 17. (San Jose is beginning a four-game road trip in Chicago on Wednesday [March 11].)
The Sharks/SAP Center released the following statement:
“SAP Center at San Jose is aware of the County of Santa Clara’s Public Health Department order to prohibit public and private mass gatherings through the end of March. We will adhere to the mandated guidelines. No events are scheduled at SAP Center until Tues., March 17. We will be reviewing each scheduled event due to take place for the rest of the month and provide an update in the coming days. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans, guests and partners during this unprecedented time.”
How Sharks might play games amid coronavirus events ban
This link contains an interesting timeline of events that went on amid concerns, including a March 6 contest for the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate.
As that release notes, more details will be released. At the moment, the Sharks and/or NHL are mulling over a few options:
NHL is aware of the Santa Clara County ban on large gatherings. They are looking at all options, which are the following, in no particular order:
1. Play to empty building
2. Neutral site
3. Play in Visitors building
4. Postpone and reschedule
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) March 10, 2020
If the three-week ban ends up being all that’s necessary, the home games within that window are a March 19 game against the Canadiens, versus the Bruins on March 21, and a match against the Coyotes on March 29.
Of course, the full extent of the coronavirus — including how long it may persist — is still unclear. With that in mind, note that the Sharks close their season with two home games (April 2 against the Stars and 4th against the Ducks).
Judging by this bit from the AP, the Sharks probably weren’t certain to play in their 2-1 OT Saturday loss to the Senators, nor their 4-3 Sunday loss to the Avalanche.
The Ottawa Senators’ road game against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night remains on schedule despite a recommendation to cancel large gatherings in the county where the arena is located.
Money is on the line here, but with the Sharks far out of the playoff race, here’s hoping that safety is the biggest priority.
MORE ON THE RIPPLE EFFECTS OF THE CORONAVIRUS FOR HOCKEY EVENTS
- NHL monitoring, limiting employee travel.
- Stick shortages among many smaller concerns.
- Coronavirus might prevent NHL from participating in preseason games in China.
- Locker rooms closed to media to mitigate risks.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.