Might NHL revive 2020 playoffs in a tournament format in the COVID-19 world? Elliotte Friedman floats North Dakota solution

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Might there still be hope that the Stanley Cup could be awarded in 2020? Seems like a faint glimmer given the cataract of bad news that has cascaded around us in recent weeks, yet professional sports leagues continue to consider different scenarios which would allow them to resume competition at least for a TV audience sometime this summer.

In an article published Sunday evening on sportsnet.ca, one of hockey’s most reliable reporters, Elliotte Friedman, put a little meat on those bones. He suggested that a neutral site such as Grand Forks, North Dakota, might be under consideration to host at least a portion of a post-pause tournament to resolve a season that was 85% complete before the curtain fell back on March 12.

Grand Forks is home to one of the NCAA’s strongest hockey programs, the UND Fighting Hawks, and features an outstanding facility in the $100+ million Ralph Engelstad Arena. Described by some as “the Taj Mahal of Hockey”, the primary arena seats over 11,600 for hockey. Not that any of those seats would be filled in the proposed “hollow arena” scenario, but one imagines that a made-for-TV hockey event would still require the sort of camera angles and sight lines that are simply not available in tiny rinks.