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Report: NHL considering 24-team tournament for playoffs

With uncertainty surrounding the return of the regular season, could the League decide to go right into a massive tourney? We take a look.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center.  Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The National Hockey League is considering a 24-team tournament to put in place of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Larry Brooks of The New York Post reported Thursday. The 24-team tourney would include a best-of-3 play-in round, so we’d basically get most of the NHL contending for the Stanley Cup. With time becoming an issue, the NHL may not have the option of going back into the regular season, so this would be a way to make things fair for all contending teams.

The NHL has kept its players under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, though things could change soon. The NBA has decided to re-open practice facilities to players and coaches in a limited capacity on Friday. We’ll see how that goes, but if things run smoothly, we could see the NHL follow suit. The NHL getting back to practicing would be a step in the right direction toward this supposed tournament in the works.

The logistical issues surrounding this are not yet clear. Where would all the teams play? Would there be fans involved? If so, how many? Would the League need to wait it out until travel restrictions are cleared? Would a neutral site be the best option? It’s just sort of out in the open at this point. Either way, this is a fun idea if it does happen. We haven’t seen a massive tournament on this scale in major North American professional sports ever.