Maple Leafs rookie defenceman Luke Schenn is hoping to get picked to play for Team Canada at the 2009 world championship, April 24-May 10 in Berne and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland.
"Obviously I'm aware of (the worlds) and we're not in the playoffs, and it would be a great honour and I'd love to be there for sure," Schenn said, following the Leafs practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday. "You'd never turn down the chance to play for Team Canada."
Schenn, who has had a successful rookie campaign with the Leafs, helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2008 world junior. A number of Leafs could take part at the 2009 worlds, including Pavel Kubina (Czech Republic), Martin Gerber (host Switzerland), Anton Stralman (Sweden), Jason Blake (U.S.) and Lee Stempniak (U.S.). Tomas Kaberle (Czech Republic) and Niklas Hagman (Finland) may not play because of past injuries. Leafs coach Ron Wilson and general manager Brian Burke will run Team USA at the 2009 worlds and 2010 Olympics.
A slumping Lee Stempniak was a healthy scratch in Saturday's game at the ACC against the visiting Montreal Canadiens but practised on a line yesterday with centre John Mitchell and Hagman, and should play tonight in New Jersey against the Devils. Wilson has not been pleased with the West Seneca, N.Y., native's effort of late.
"Lee's not unlike Jason Blake," Wilson said. "He has got to go hard to the net more. Apparently, that's what he did the year he scored 27 goals (2006-07 with St. Louis) and for some reason he hasn't gotten back to that."
Stempniak was disappointed with being a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
"You're really competitive and you want to play the game, that's what we live for," he said. "At the same time, it's the coach's decision and you respect that. I just came to practice (yesterday) and worked hard."
Around the crease
Burke spoke on the opportunities of professional sport at Harvard Law School yesterday, shortly after taking part in the USA Hockey conference call, which confirmed that Wilson will coach the U.S. at the 2009 worlds and 2010 Olympics.