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2020 NHL playoffs: Without fans, will Stanley Cup Playoff games lose authenticity?

2020 NHL playoffs: Without fans, will Stanley Cup Playoff games lose authenticity?

Hockey has been on the mind all week and even the simple discussion of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs has excited fans for the return of their favorite sport — even if things are going to look different this time around. 

While the majority of new rules and procedures were laid out Tuesday thanks to commissioner Gary Bettman, there is still a lot of unknown territory. This format has never been done before, but having a plan in place is the first step to turning concepts into something tangible. 

One of the biggest changes won’t be the additional eight teams, the hub city locations or the fact the NHL has the potential to run into the late summer months, but rather the element — or lack thereof — of fan attendance. 

The safety of fans and players is without a doubt the biggest priority and as we adapt to the “new norm” for the foreseeable future, this is just one of the many things that will have to be endured. 

On the surface, it stinks. Surprisingly enough, you’re allowed to feel this way while also being excited for the hopeful return of the league and games. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are some of the most thrilling weeks in all of sports and a large portion of that is due to the atmosphere created by the fans rallying behind their favorite teams.

So without them in attendance, will games lose their authenticity and lower the overall level of interest? 

Absolutely not. 

Fans have been craving the moment they would have live sports to look forward to and even if that means they can’t physically be in the stands, it doesn’t take away the level of devotion they have.

Of course it will be different — there’s no denying that, but someone rightfully needs to be awarded the Stanley Cup for 2019-20. There are a handful of options to help fill the void, such as playing fan reaction videos on the arena vision screens during thrilling moments of a game. Hearing the “crowd” through the screen would certainly add a level of normalcy, though it wouldn’t fully replicate the atmosphere. 

There are new moments that fans could look forward to in regard to this as well — the sights and sounds that are often coated within cheers or boos. A crisp stop on skates, receiving a puck, solid check along the boards, chirps from one team to another and the celebrations following a goal. 

Also, if things are too quiet, there is a chance to get a look into life on the bench with the players. Hearing teammates interact with one another is always enjoyable when they are mic’d up for games, so imagine having that for a full 60 minutes? It’d be new for everyone, but what a fun concept it would be. 

This is a prime opportunity to view things glass half full, rather than finding negative aspects to this plan. There are still many moving parts before playoffs become a reality once again, but if things are truly done in a safe manner — I say make the most of the situation at hand and drop that puck. 

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Is Chris Pronger coming back to Philly for new endeavor?

Is Chris Pronger coming back to Philly for new endeavor?

He wasn’t in Philadelphia for a significant amount of time during his successful career, but Chris Pronger was widely loved by Flyers fans — and still is. 

While his career ended abruptly in the early weeks of the 2011-12 season, his time with the Flyers has always felt unfinished. 

Now, almost nine years later, could there be a possibility of Pronger joining the organization once more? 

The Hockey Hall-of-Famer posted a few clues to his Instagram account Tuesday night, implying that a “big announcement” is coming the next day. 

View this post on Instagram

Big announcement coming tomorrow! Stay tuned ...

A post shared by Chris Pronger (@thechrispronger) on

And one post wasn’t enough to contain his excitement, as he took to his Instagram story as well — now adding that it’s the “best day ever” and tagging the location as the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers. 

Many have taken to the comments section under his post, giving their guesses on possible scenarios, but Pronger isn’t budging.



On July 8, Pronger announced that he stepped down from his senior vice president of hockey operations position with the Florida Panthers. He also noted that he made this decision to focus on his and his wife Lauren’s business, Well Inspired Travels — a luxury travel company that caters to elite athletes, executives and business owners. 

So, what does this recent career decision and posts mean? We’ll just have to take Pronger’s advice and “stay tuned” until tomorrow when the announcement is made. 

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NHL schedule 2020: Start times for Flyers vs. Penguins exhibition game, Flyers vs. Bruins round-robin game

NHL schedule 2020: Start times for Flyers vs. Penguins exhibition game, Flyers vs. Bruins round-robin game

Alain Vigneault and his staff have put together a detailed, science-based plan to prepare the Flyers for what could be an unprecedented run at the 2020 Stanley Cup.

They know they have about a month to work with following an abrupt stoppage that spanned four months because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I believe it’s going to work," the Flyers' head coach said Monday about his team's plan ahead of the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Part of the plan includes an exhibition contest. It also features three interesting round-robin games, which will dictate the Eastern Conference's top-four seeds but can serve as a tune-up of sorts, as well. During the qualifying round, the Flyers will try to improve their seeding and strategize for the first round of the playoffs, which begins Aug. 11.

We've got 30 days to get ready for our first official game on Aug. 11," Vigneault said. "Our group is excited, focused, energized — and we've been waiting a long time here to have this opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup, and we’re going to get it.

"We are going to take this time that we have in front of us here to obviously prepare the team. We’re also going to take the exhibition game and the three games that we're going to play because really, Aug. 11, our first game in the first round for the Stanley Cup Playoffs starts there. I’m going to put on the ice at that time the best lineup that we have.

We now know when and who the Flyers will play in their exhibition game: the Penguins. The NHL also released the start time for the Flyers' round-robin opener against the Bruins.

Here are the details so far, while broadcast information is to be announced on another date:

Flyers vs. Penguins, Tuesday, July 28 — 4 p.m. ET (exhibition)

Flyers vs. Bruins, Sunday, Aug. 2 — 3 p.m. ET (round robin)

Flyers vs. Capitals, Thursday, Aug. 6 — TBD (round robin)

Flyers vs. Lightning, Sunday, Aug. 9 — TBD (round robin)

For analysis on the Flyers' round-robin slate, click here. For the rest of the NHL schedule and start times, click here.

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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