The New Jersey Devils announced today that they will begin allowing fans into home games at the Prudential Center in a limited capacity. The news was announced in the wake of New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, approving the opening of entertainment venues for spectators, from the beginning of March.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 22, 2021
New Jersey Devils Allowing Fans
The New Jersey Devils will begin welcoming fans into games starting March 2nd for their three-game homestand. They face off against the New York Islanders (once) and the New York Rangers (twice) from the 2nd-6th of March. However, the Devils will only allow 10 percent capacity at home games in keeping with local government guidelines. This means that a maximum of 1950 Devils fans can attend games from the start of next week.
The Devils become the ninth team in the NHL to allow fans back to the arena. Elsewhere, the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets are all preparing to welcome fans back over the next week. Therefore from the beginning of March, three out of the eight teams in the East Divison will be playing in front of crowds.
What This Means Going Forward
New Jersey will be delighted with the decision to reopen their arena to fans. The lack of gate receipts is a major concern for all 31 NHL teams this season. What is more, the Devils have exceeded expectations this year. They are currently sixth in the East Divison based on points percentage (.538) with a 6-5-2 record. Allowing the fans to enjoy their on-ice success is a major boon given the difficulties the team has experienced during the pandemic.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the entirety of the league this season, but has challenged the Devils in particular. An outbreak within the team in late January forced the Devils to shut down for two weeks. At the start of February, the vast majority of the roster was placed on the COVID-protocol. As a result, the league has already postponed five Devils games this year. The virus has also kept important players sidelined in the early goings of the 2020-21 season. Newly-appointed captain, Nico Hischier has played just two games this season.