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Getting up for game in empty arena would be tough, say NHL players

04/29/2015 03:40 EDT | Updated 08/05/2015 08:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty can't fathom playing an NHL game in an empty rink.

While he's played in front of some sparse crowds in the minors, he's never experienced anything like what the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox faced on Wednesday.

The game was played in an empty Camden Yards due to riots in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody.

It was believed to be the first game played behind closed doors in Major League Baseball's 145-season history.

"I couldn't imagine that feeling," said Pacioretty, who routinely plays to a full house in Montreal. "But it's very unfortunate circumstances and it's tough to see stuff like that going on."

In Calgary, Flames forward Josh Jooris said the lack of fans might be easier for baseball players than hockey teams.

"Hockey is a little more fast-paced ... I think it would be easier to get through with no fans in baseball because it's not fast-paced," he said. "You're with your teammates, you've got a lot of dugout time ... you can just hang out and talk amongst each other."

Hockey players need the fans to get up for a game, said Jooris.

"I don't think it would be easy to play a game without a crowd," he said. "We talk about internal and external fuel. I think we'd need a lot of internal fuel to be able to get up for a game like that."

Flames centre Matt Stajan likened it to a practice.

"It's too bad what's going on there," he said. "Obviously they've got to do what they've got to do."

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