The Montreal Canadiens’ public relations department announced today that despite rumors, there won’t be an increased fan capacity for Montreal home games in the Stanley Cup Final. There was widespread hope of being able to increase the attendance limit to 10,500 spectators, or around 50 percent capacity. Instead, the Habs will remain with just 3,500 fans allowed in the building to watch Games 3, 4, and a potential Game 6.
An announcement was expected from either Montreal or the health department of Quebec today after the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they’d be opening up full capacity from Game 2 onwards. Now, it appears as such the Habs won’t be getting a similar boost. Fans at the Bell Centre for tonight’s watch party voiced their displeasure, booing loudly as the capacity limitation was announced on the broadcast.
With only 3,500 fans allowed in the building for Montreal’s last game, Game 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights, even more people were gathered outside of the Bell Centre in order to watch and eventually celebrate Montreal’s win. It ended up creating a dangerous environment outside. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reported after the game that the Bell Centre had been put into a lockdown, due to the zone outside being declared by a riot zone by the city.
For the team, though, a playoff run without a full house hasn’t mattered. Montreal owns a 5-3 record on home ice in these playoffs, and haven’t lost in regulation at home since Game 4 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the result of Game 2 pending, Montreal’s success in Games 3 and 4 may be absolutely necessary if Tampa emerges victorious again at home. It won’t be anything new for the Habs, who didn’t even play with fans in the stands until the playoffs started. As they gear up to attempt to win their first championship since 1993, they’ll continue to do it in a limited-capacity environment.