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Regal Rundown: Will fans return to Staples Center before season ends?

Plus the NHL’s top defenders ranked, prospects updates and more in today’s news and notes.

Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings high fives fans during warm ups against the Toronto Maple Leafs at STAPLES Center on March 5, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

Now that a vaccine rollout is nearly underway for everyone, it feels like the end of the coronavirus pandemic — at least as strict as we’ve known it for the last year — is finally in sight.

Aside from the league’s policies, COVID-19 restrictions have looked different across the country since the start of the season. Now, more than half of the 31 NHL teams are allowing fans in some capacity into their arenas. Due to local regulations, the three California teams have not.

The Los Angeles Kings are hopeful that may change before the season ends.

President Luc Robitaille, Vice President & General Manager Rob Blake, Chief Operating Officer Kelly Cheeseman, Director of Player Personnel Nelson Emerson and Head Coach Todd McLellan (virtually) hosted a “State of the Franchise” call with Kings season ticket holders, to answer their questions and among them was whether they’d get a chance to return to Staples Center.

“We’re getting closer,” said Cheeseman. “We’re having continued, ongoing dialogue about fans coming back here indoors in a number of weeks. I don’t have an exact date yet, but we’re hopeful in the next few weeks we’re going to get an opportunity to bring some fans back before the season ends.”

He added that there were “no guarantees,” but that it would look much like other arenas who have since allowed fans. A group of one to six people would be allowed in a “pod” that would be seated at least six feet from any other pod. Masking would also be required.

For NHL games, Staples Center has a capacity of 18,118. Re-opening at, for example, a 25 percent capacity would allow for around 4,500 fans.

Read more about it, linked below.

Kings Things

  • LA Kings Host Exclusive Call with Season Ticket Members [NHL.com]
  • Column: Kings say fans could be allowed to attend games at Staples Center soon [LA Times]
  • Ranking the NHL’s top defensemen for 2021: Execs, coaches, players debate the top 10 [ESPN+]
  • Los Angeles Kings Prospects Growing With Ontario Reign [Last Word On Sports]
  • Kings Are Being Patient With Byfield Despite AHL Success [The Hockey Writers]
  • When power-play goals dry up, so does Kings’ offense [LA Daily News]
  • LA Kings Need To Move on From Jonathan Quick [The Hockey Writers]
  • Practice Alignment + Vegas’ opportunistic nature, Walker on the left & Photos [LA Kings Insider]

Hockey Things

  • Seeking some roster flexibility, struggling Philadelphia Flyers put Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers [ESPN]
  • Why the Flyers waived Shayne Gostisbehere: Addressing the lingering questions and potential consequences [The Athletic]
  • Buffalo Sabres’ winless streak hits 18 games after collapse in third period against Philadelphia Flyers [ESPN]
  • NHL Trade Buzz: Penguins could seek goalie if Jarry out long term [NHL.com]
  • Ekblad out 12 weeks for Panthers after surgery for left-leg fracture [NHL.com]
  • Winnipeg Jets Have the Best Forward Corps in the NHL [Sports Illustrated]
  • Black Girl Hockey Club and NWHL player Saroya Tinker team up to raise money for young Black women interested in hockey [Yahoo!]
  • U.S. women’s hockey roster named for world championship [NBC Sports]
  • Hockey is for Everyone: Lightning trade bolts for rainbows on Pride Night [Fox 13 Tampa Bay]

Scores & Recaps

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