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Datsyuk for MVP?

Pavel Datsyuk is eighth in league scoring with 57 points in 57 games. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Pavel Datsyuk is eighth in league scoring with 57 points in 57 games. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Hey Adam, I was wondering the possibility of Rick Nash being traded to St. Louis? He played for Ken Hitchcock before. Do you think that would be a good fit for him?
Ken Fish, Kenora, Ont.


Hey Ken,

I’m sure Hitchcock and the Blues would love to have him – and given the organization’s ascent to the top of the Western Conference, I’d imagine he’d be fine with playing there, too. But there are a few factors that present a problem.

The first is the fact the Blues still don’t have a new owner finalized. Yes, a group led by minority owner Tom Stillman is slated to take over the franchise, but until they do, taking a chance on a long-term mega contract such as Nash’s is a luxury few observers think St. Louis can afford.

The second, equally important roadblock is the price GM Doug Armstrong would have to pay to acquire Nash. With the team playing so well, would Armstrong risk killing its chemistry by making a blockbuster deal? And what would he have to give up? Certainly, the names Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo would be raised by Jackets GM Scott Howson, who also needs a goalie in the worst way. Something tells me (a) the Blues aren’t trading Jaroslav Halak; (b) Brian Elliott isn’t the most attractive option, despite his brilliant year; and (c) Ben Bishop isn’t regarded highly enough to get a deal done either.

So yes, Nash would be a fit on that team. But a lot of other pieces of the puzzle have to fit to make a deal materialize. And I don’t see them all fitting, at least not right now.

Adam, do you feel NHLers are paid the right amount for the job they do? Are any of the new collective bargaining discussions going to focus on the salaries players are getting these days?
Pat Russell, Halifax, N.S.


Pat,

This is a loaded question in many regards. Are players paid properly for playing a game? Of course not. Doctors, teachers, soldiers and scientists, among many professions, all contribute more to society and their salaries make players grossly overpaid in comparison.

But ask yourself this: do NHL team owners charge the right amount for what they do? Since the so-called “cost-certainty” provided by the salary cap came into effect, there has been no across-the-board, drastic reduction in ticket prices to make the game more affordable. Players are entitled to their fair share of the money the industry generates.

That said, I’m quite certain the labor negotiations will focus in large part on the amount of money players receive. Whispers have the league looking to reduce the split of all hockey-related revenue from the current setup (in which NHLers get 57 percent of the pie) to somewhere much closer to a 50/50 split. Of course, NHL Players’ Association head honcho Donald Fehr will have something to say about that.

In any case, rest assured the salary issue will be front and center. But if you view them through the tired old lens of “players are overpaid” you’re either a shill for the owners or you’re not looking at the bigger picture.

Hi Adam. I'm wondering if and when Pavel Datsyuk will get the recognition he deserves of being named the NHL’s MVP. It seems like because of his low-key personality and his humble ways, he may always be a dark horse. Thanks,
Daniel Carls, Berkley, Mich.


Hi Daniel,

Few people inside the game dismiss Datsyuk’s astonishing talent, but I don’t think you’ll see him win the Hart Trophy – and it has nothing to do with his humility.

Datsyuk arguably is the most complete player in the game, but his astonishing defensive talents don’t permeate as deeply into the minds of hockey writers who vote on the award as do offensive totals. And although Datsyuk has averaged more than a point-per-game in five of the past six seasons, he’s rarely at the very top of the points race.

Moreover, he also plays on a deep, talented team with another player (Henrik Zetterberg) who could be considered an MVP if he wore a lesser franchise’s uniform. Sometimes voters see the Hart as a “who plays the best on the cruddiest team” award. Datsyuk obviously won’t win that.

But as I said, personality has nothing to do with it. And to be honest, I doubt Datsyuk is all that broken up about not winning it to this point. He has the respect of all NHLers, as well as a pair of Stanley Cup rings, and that’s likely enough.

Hey Adam, with all the debate over whether one teams deserve an extra point for winning a "gimmick" shootout, why doesn’t the NHL consider just extending overtime a few minutes? The play is exciting for the fans and there are more scoring chances for the teams to end the game with a real goal. Do you think extending overtime is something that would work or be considered by the NHL?
Mark Mottola, Pittsburgh


Hey Mark,

I don’t mind extended overtime as a replacement for shootouts solving tied games, at least in theory. Here’s the problem I have with it: NHL coaches. Those gentlemen find a way to gum up just about every offensive initiative players take on the ice, so I’d be worried about defensive/pong hockey that took no chances and caused the game to drag on into the wee hours of the morning.

That sounds fun during the playoffs, but during the regular season, 41 nights a year, when parents can’t afford to keep their kids at the rink all night and have work the next morning, it seems like it could present a problem. That’s what the shootout guarantees – a timely, neat, guaranteed end to all games.

If you could guarantee me coaches couldn’t screw up overtime by turning it into a defense-first nightmare, I’d be fine with extended overtime. But I just don’t trust coaches to do so.

Ask Adam appears Fridays on THN.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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