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Sidney Crosby prefers 24-team playoff tournament over March Madness-style format

Sidney Crosby preferred NHL playoff format

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 10: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins chats with Linesman Ryan Daisy during the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 10, 2020 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

If the NHL can award the 2020 Stanley Cup in any playoff format, Sidney Crosby prefers the idea of a 24-team tournament over something closer to the NCAA’s “March Madness.”

Crosby said as much to TSN’s Darren Dreger, as you can see in a snippet from the latest “Dreger’s Cafe.”

Crosby wants more games in a playoff format

Of course, Crosby and Dreger are discussing topics vaguely while the NHL and NHLPA throw around any number of variations. Crosby indicates that the key distinction is that he’d want more games in a given series. To Crosby, that would do a better job maintaining the “integrity” of a given playoff format.

For instance, the 24-team playoff format pitched to Crosby might include typical best-of-seven series. While it’s important to note that Crosby emphasized safety, it’s common sense to view more games as more chances for exposure.

Then again, approaches compared to “March Madness” pose their own risks, especially with all 31 teams included. Yes, single or double-elimination formats would limit reps, but more teams mean more players and staffers being around, and thus more people exposed to risks.

Back in mid-April, Bill Daly told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski that the league isn’t all that interested in a March Madness-like tournament with few games.

“I would say that a best-of-one is not something we would ever go to,” Daly said. “I’ve always had the caveat that everything is on the table and nothing is out of the question. I would say there would be a strong opposition to ever creating a playoff where it was a single elimination. I think best-of-three is more possible, not preferred, but more possible than a best-of-one scenario.”

So, it sounds like Crosby may get his way if any playoff format is even possible. (P.K. Subban wouldn’t, as he took a liking to certain NCAA-inspired approaches.)

Naturally, these situations remain hypothetical, anyway. Simply put, the NHL and NHLPA are trying to work out plans, but a lot of things are out of their control.


James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.