Who has been this season's early MVP? Is a hockey Champions League in the future? Should the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Kris Letang? All this and more in this week's hockey mailbag. And remember, if you want to be featured in next week's mailbag, send questions and observations here.
I recently read Frank Provenzano's NHL Insider article on how to fix the NHL schedule, and I liked his ideas. My question regards his idea about a club tournament similar to UEFA Champions League in soccer. I would like to see something like this, where the best NHL teams play against the best teams from Europe. How do you think this could play out for the future of hockey in North America, or better yet, the world?
Ryan, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Hey Ryan, I loved Frank's story and agreed with a lot of it. The trick of the shorter schedule is making the finances work, and his expanded playoff idea would be a fun way to accomplish that. We all got a taste during the lockout-shortened season of how fun a sprint-like short campaign could be. Your idea of a Champions League came up this week during Brian Burke's executive conference in Toronto.
IIHF president Rene Fasel acknowledged that he would love to have the Stanley Cup champ take on the European champ but admitted that it wasn't an easy idea to pull off. "It's very difficult to have the same as soccer," he said. It would be fun and I think help expand the game in Europe, but I'm not sure it's a feasible option for the Cup champ, already dealing with a shortened summer.
Who's your quarter-pole MVP? Hard to look past Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk or Sidney Crosby. And what about Alexander Steen? Or Matt Duchene? Could be the closest, most widespread vote I've ever seen.
Bob, Darnestown, Md.