Sharks ponder reality of playing without fans

Arun Srinivasan
Joe Thornton is being cautious after the San Jose Sharks cancelled a series of home games amid fears of the coronavirus. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Amid growing concerns over the coronavirus, the San Jose Sharks cancelled three home games in March and players are now pondering the reality of playing games without fans.

There will be no events scheduled at the SAP Center through March 17, after the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department prohibited public and private mass gatherings through the end of the month.

A day after the announcement, the Sharks held their media availability and addressed what could be a nearly unprecedented crisis.

"We gotta make sure we take precautions for it. We're just kinda going through it like you guys and learn through it like you guys and we'll see what happens when we get back from the road trip,” Sharks forward Joe Thornton said.

Although the Sharks are the first NHL team to cancel games, Thornton noted it’s a global pandemic and he’s still adjusting to the idea of playing in front of no fans.

“We're all confused like you guys are. I see Italian soccer teams are doing the no fans thing so I'm not sure what we'll have planned right now,” Thornton said.

“To see it kind of hit home and put things in perspective, we've got to take care of each other. It's been tough these last couple of weeks.”

San Jose released the following statement Monday evening:

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.

“We love playing front of our fans, they're great to us, but we also know that health comes first,” Sharks forward Timo Meier said Tuesday.

Forward Evander Kane also chimed in:

“That's what they implemented. We're going to have to abide by that decision," Kane said, via ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. “I know they made an announcement on a couple of different scenarios, and the empty building was one of them.”

There’s been no word on if or when the games will be rescheduled as the league continues to monitor the ongoing health crisis.

San Jose resumes its season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

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