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Comment: Ready to come home?

Fans E1585900987625, British Ice Hockey

The sight of fans gracing football stadiums all over Europe for Euro 2020 over the last month has been a welcome sight and may have given hockey fans a glimpse of what’s to come.

We’ve still to hear when the season will begin, whether that be in the Elite League or the NIHL, but it’s certainly going to be good to hear singing and cheering when allowed.

There are still so many safety factors to consider as this virus and the numbers rise again, but even a limited attendance will present a glimmer of normality.

Watching the football over the last month, it showed just how much crowds have been missed and hearing the players mention that in interviews reflects exactly what they bring to the occasion.

Ice hockey is the same and watchers of the NHL will be fully aware the difference having a crowd makes to an empty arena.  Tell that to the guys who played in the Elite Series.

For all it was a good competition, the lack of atmosphere must have been the biggest thing the guys were missing, although I suspect they soon got used to it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced everything was opening back up again on 19th July – the badly termed “Freedom Day”, but seeing crowds congregate as we’ve saw around Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon should see cases rise some more.

Beyond that, you’re hopeful the arenas, which are second homes for a lot of us, can be allowed to bring in as much of a crowd as possible.

There may be restrictions and there will likely be controls on exactly who is attending – you don’t want the sort of free-for-all we saw at Wembley in Sunday’s final.

Tampa E1626120468226, British Ice Hockey

Tampa Bay were able to celebrate with fans after winning the Stanley Cup this year. They had to do it in an empty arena last year (PHOTO: NHL)

But after seeing fans slowly drip fed back into attending sporting events in this country, ice hockey is due to follow suit and you already get a sense of excitement at the fans knowing their return isn’t long now.

It’s been the hell of a road to get here, but when you consider, this time last year, the uncertainty of even knowing if a campaign would even start was taking shape, now we know it’s happening.

It’s fair to say it might not be what would we would like it to be, at least not at first, but provided any rules that may be put in place are stuck to, we’ll get through it.

Football may not be coming home, but fans of ice hockey are and that’s a great thing to get excited about.

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