The Canadian Government says Bell Centre to remain at 3,500
Since the season began most teams south of the border have had a limited number of fans in the stands. Not in Canada. The Canadian government has just started allowing fans into a few stadiums when the playoffs started. The seven teams in the birthplace of hockey have played in empty arenas during the regular season and most of the playoffs.
When the Stanley Cup Playoffs third round started, the three American teams were close to full capacity. In Quebec, the storied Montreal Canadiens going for their 25th championship were only allowed, 2,500 habitants.
The Canadiens requested an increase to 10,500 fans, but the elected officials denied the request. Eric Engels a reporter for Sportsnet released this tweet on June 30th.
Canadiens announce: The Quebec Public Health authorities will not allow the Canadiens to have more fans in the Bell Centre.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) July 1, 2021
The noise you heard was the sound of hundreds of thousands of Habs fans’ hearts breaking. While they are being denied a chance to watch this historic run happen live, we force them to watch this.
Here we go for Game 2! #TBLvsMTL
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) July 1, 2021
The packed house in Tampa is one thing, but in the States, NBCSN consistently showed the enormous crowd in front of Amalie Arena.
The Canadiens have announced that a crowd will be allowed outside of the Bell center, however; I think the Quebec Public Health authorities may regret this decision.
The Canadiens are Canada’s team. They are the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys, and both the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers all rolled up into one.
Hockey is the national sport in Canada and it is Life for many of our neighbors up north. The Habs being back in the finals for the first time since the 75th anniversary season is something to celebrate and to witness live. This is akin to the St. Louis Blues going to the Finals in 2019 for the first time in 49 years.
Could you imagine the riot that would have taken place had Blues fans not been allowed in the building? I flew from Hawaii to St. Louis for Game 3 of the Finals. I was in the “Lou” for 29 hours. that trip could have done 3 times for the cost of two tickets to game 3 in Montreal.
The World had been dealing with the global pandemic for 16 months. We have worn masks everywhere. Our major events were postponed or canceled. We missed funerals, births, weddings, and just plain being social. We the people of the world need a win.
Hockey fans got a small one in December 2020 when the World Junior tournament was played in the bubble in Edmonton. Hockey fans across the world could see the best 17 and 18 y/o’s lace up the skates and play for pride.
The Tournament gave us the final we wanted, and it became a battle of North America. Canada vs the United States. An improbable win for the Americans capped of this amazing game and tournament.
This gave us all hope that things were returning to normal. That is here in the US.
Up North, the Canadian Government seems to have been a step or two behind. Now I am not an expert on governmental dealing or the structure of the Canadian system of law. However, the eye test tells me that if the American one of their closest allies and their only neighbor can get a vaccine, then maybe the Canucks should too.
The Canadiens are in a 0-2 hole coming into a building that should be twice as loud and 3 times as crazy as Tampa was. This should be an advantage for them.
While there will be 3500 of the craziest fans in the building, it will not be the same. Piped in crowd noise on top of the cheering does nothing to raise the heartbeat and adrenalin of the Habs players.
Can you imagine what it would sound like if 10500 crazy hockey starved fans were allowed to sing O’Canada? Listen to how just 2500 sounded in round one.
Nick Suzuki, Corey Perry, Carey Price, and the rest of the boys in red, should be feeling the rush of the crowd. Hearing the anthem being sung as it should be. Not looking out at empty stands and advertising tarps.
The Quebec Public Health authorities have set themselves up to be the patsies. The question is, should they? According to Google Statistics on June 30 the day they made the decision, the 7-day average for Canada was 622 with 528 new cases, On July 1st? Twenty-six new positives. Yes, these numbers could go up.
Let me say this. I understand where they are coming from, kind of. This is a health issue and not an entertainment one. Yet in a building that holds 21,300 having the building halfway full of people wearing masks and having the vaccine should be the risk management we would all want.
I have a hard time thinking that the problem up north is so great that you can not allow more fans into the game.
I believe that a government has the responsibility to protect the people, but they also have the responsibility to listen to the people and to preserve freedom. This is one time where the two things are not that far apart, as we are led to believe. The Government can protect the people while also listening to them.
Risk Management is the key here. If used properly the Canadiens could have the fans they need to give them the home-ice advantage, they also need.
If the Habs happen to lose both of these upcoming games, which have an extra day break to allow for American television to show independence day programing, the fans of Les Habitants will hold the government partially responsible.
All of us have heard the chants of “let them play,” now outside the Bell Center you will hear chants of “let us in.”
Till Next Time Hockey Fans