The San Jose Sharks can return to the SAP Center to play the remaining 26 games of their home schedule, the club was told by officials of Santa Clara County Thursday.
“The Sharks will return to SAP Center for the Feb. 13 and 15 games against the Anaheim Ducks and for the remaining 2020-21 home games,” the club said in a statement. “Per county directives, spectators will not be allowed to attend these games.”
SAP Arena in San Jose became available again this week when California Governor Gavin Newsom lifted a state-wide stay at home order.
The Sharks will have played their first 12 games on the road by then, including “home” games next Monday and Wednesday nights against the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena, the home of the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale.
Even those two games are now in jeopardy because a coronavirus outbreak has swept through the Golden Knights, causing the postponement of Thursday night’s games against the St. Louis Blues in Las Vegas.
The NHL said the Vegas practice facility is closed until further notice. The league is “in the process of reviewing and revising the Golden Knights’ regular season schedule and it is expected that a decision on next week’s games will be made in the next 24-48 hours.”
The Knights don’t play again until the Monday night game in Arizona. They join Dallas and Carolina as the third team to be shut down because of the spread of COVID since the abbreviated 56-game season began Jan. 13.
The Sharks had trained in the Phoenix area and were forced to open on the road because of tight restrictions in their home county. The San Francisco 49ers, who play at Levi Stadium just to the north in Santa Clara, staged their final three “home” games at State Farm Stadium. The facility used by the Arizona Cardinals is adjacent to Gila River, and the parking lot is currently being utilized 24/7 as a vaccination site for the virus.
Like the Coyotes, who are playing their home games in front of crowds capped at 2,600 fans, the Sharks will offer “a very limited number of tickets, situated in physically-distanced pods … for fans residing in Arizona.”
The Coyotes are one of only three NHL teams inviting fans to purchase tickets to games. Dallas and Florida are the others.