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THN at the World Championship: Second chances all around

Saku Koivu will be back in the NHL next season, but will his Team Finland teammate Teemu Selanne? (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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Saku Koivu will be back in the NHL next season, but will his Team Finland teammate Teemu Selanne? (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

QUEBEC CITY – Russian winger Ilya Kovalchuk will receive no further suspension than his current one-game ban resulting from his hit on Swiss defenseman Julien Vauclair in a quarterfinal game Wednesday night, meaning he’ll be available either for the bronze or gold medal game this weekend.

After reviewing the hit further, Russian coach Slava Bykov railed against the game misconduct penalty, Kovalchuk’s second of the tournament, which carries an automatic one-game suspension.

Bykov likened Kovalchuk’s hit to that of Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars on Milan Michalek of the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of their playoff series. The hit knocked Michalek out of the game, but Morrow was not penalized.

“The charge was legal, the officials were there,” Bykov said of the Kovalchuk hit. “The guy had his head down. It was his fault. It’s hockey. If we are going to whine after every bodycheck, we’d be better off doing figure skating.”

ROTATING STOPPERS
Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock said regardless of how Pascal Leclaire plays in Friday’s semifinal game, he plans to stick to his goalie rotation and start Cam Ward in either the gold or bronze medal game.

“I don’t see why we would change it up right now,” Hitchcock said. “I didn’t even know how many games there were in the tournament when I started (Cam) Ward. I started Ward in the first exhibition game and we just continued to alternate.”

So if Leclaire pitches a shutout and stops 65 shots in the semifinal, that means Hitchcock will still go back with Ward?

“We’ll take a look,” Hitchcock said.

THERE’S HOPE AFTER ALL
Finland coach Doug Shedden has accepted a contract to coach Zug of the Swiss League next season, but with all the potential NHL coaching vacancies, he’s hoping somebody will take a look at hiring him either as a head coach or an assistant.

“My name is out there and people can contact me whenever they want,” said Shedden, who has an out in his Zug contract if he’s offered an NHL job. “I’d love to talk to somebody.”

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Shedden said he takes a lot of inspiration from Bruce Boudreau, who finally got his chance to coach in the NHL last season after coaching more than 1,000 games in the minors.

Shedden has coached 876 games in the minor leagues and spend the past three seasons in Finland. He has four Central League championships and one United League title on his resume.

“Guys like myself and Gabby (Boudreau) who have paid their dues in the minors and rode the buses, eventually if you win in those leagues, you deserve an opportunity,” Shedden said. “We’re not in the recycling program yet.”

CLEAR AS MUD
Beyond saying he will make a decision prior to July 1, that he’ll play an entire season if he plays and that it will be with the Anaheim Ducks or no one, Teemu Selanne could not have been more coy about his intentions for next season.

When asked whether he intends to retire after the World Championship, Selanne left the impression he was leaning that way, then went in a completely opposite direction.

“I play every game like it’s going to be my last,” Selanne said. “I know we still have two games, but I found that’s good for me. I feel good, but I’ve always said this is a young man’s game. When I came back this year, I was very happy, but now I’ve been on the road three weeks and it feels like a long time.”

Leaves a certain impression, doesn’t it.

But then in the next breath, Selanne said, “I’ve always said I’ll play as long as I feel I can play and as long as I like coming to the rink, and so far, it looks good.”

When asked whether he would play in the 2010 Olympics, Selanne said, “Not a chance. Not a chance. No, you never know.”

Ken Campbell is at the World Championship in Quebec and will be filing daily reports through to the final day. Read THN's semifinals preview HERE.

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