Until a few days ago, we were talking solely about the playoffs battle, about the most emotional part of the season that was about to start. Now instead, considering the “coronavirus psychosis”, we find ourselves in the position of watching the playoffs – that we don’t know if they will be played – played behind closed doors.

We mean, the situation is delicate. It’s certainly not up to us to say whether the decisions taken by the authorities are right or wrong. Moreover, we are not the persons who can talk about the coronavirus in medical terms. We leave such thankless job to those who can do it.

The only thing that we can see, talking about coronavirus, is that there is an unbelievable psychosis among people… generated also by the fact that there is not enough information but rather sensationalism from the part of “certain” – and we want to stress “certain” – media.

That said, the current situation affects also the National League.

The last two regular season games were played behind closed doors. Concerning playoffs instead, we’re forced to wait until Monday to learn about further steps.

Yet, is it worth to play the playoffs, or rather to play them behind closed doors? We’re romantics: in our opinion, hockey is for fans. No fans, no playoffs. It’s as simple as that. Moreover, we don’t think it’s in the clubs interest to play games behind closed doors.

Then again, it’s not even easy to cancel the whole season. Or to award the RS winners with the title.

What can be done then?

We take the view that we should “wait for a miracle”. In other words, to wait until March 15th – or even more if necessary – and then see if it’s possible to play the playoffs WITH the fans. At that moment, “best-of-3” or “best-of-5” series can be scheduled so that the season can be over soon enough just to leave space to the Worlds. If there is any Worlds, of course…

And let’s not exaggerate. If we take the Swedish SHL for example, last season the last game of the final was played on May 2nd. Therefore, to imagine that the National League can finish late April / early May would not be out of place.

So, our “tactic” would be to wait out the situation and see.

If then, as it’s likely, the emergency coronavirus continues after mid-March… probably it would be the case to cancel the whole season.

Would it really be interesting to play all the playoffs games behind closed doors? We saw this last weekend how sad it was to play without fans. It’s not even hockey. As said, in our opinion ice hockey is for fans. No fans, no playoffs. And we also think that it’s not in the clubs’ interest to have a post-season played behind closed doors.

Sure, it would be a problem when it comes to contracts, sponsors… and so on. Just like the investments made by the Swiss League clubs that want to be promoted. But let us not forget, anyway, that the whole season would have to be cancelled even if only one player should get infected with the virus. And so, in our opinion, it’s worth “taking the risk” of procrastinating the beginning of the post-season and hoping for the “miracle” of playing the playoffs with the arenas full of fans.

Or again, at least. If one of the problem of the coronavirus emergency is the “traceability” of people, perhaps is it conceivable to guarantee access only to holders of a season ticket? You could check, by means of ID card, that the holder of the season ticket is the one who actually enters the arena. Moreover, you could check the body temperature of those who enter the arena. Those are surely uncomfortable and annoying measures, that would – however – grant the access to at least part of the fans.

That’s just an idea. Perhaps not even a good one but that would make at least part of the fans’ interests. Maybe it’s even an unfair idea, because only holders of a season ticket could get inside. But this is an exceptional situation, and it is what it is.

Anyway, something maybe can be done. Because again, ice hockey – and sport in general – is for fans. We had a real proof this last weekend.

Moreover, let’s face it. How would really the winners enjoy winning the title in an empty arena? Ice hockey, more than other sports, thrives on emotions. And the fans are gifted with emotions right from the players. We mean, one very much relies on the others.

If the season must be cancelled… well, it would be an infinite sadness. In our opinion though, it would be less sad than watching the post-season in desolated empty arenas.

And you, what would you decide?

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