- Jim Kelley
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Team Canada is opting to go for the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" strategy and will select Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn to coach its entry in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Quinn was coach of the Canadian team that won the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. He rejoins the executive team of Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini, who were named to their positions in November.
A spokesman for Hockey Canada, the sport's national governing body, said the organization was not prepared to confirm or deny the decision had been made but did note a press conference scheduled for Friday, during the NHL's All-Star festivities.
The World Cup will be played Aug. 30-Sept. 14 and will include eight of the top hockey-playing countries in the world.
The United States has yet to name its coaching staff, however San Jose Sharks coach Ron Wilson, who coached Team USA to the '96 World Cup title, is reportedly a lead candidate.
Quinn likely will select Ottawa Senators coach Jacques Martin and Ken Hitchcock and Wayne Flemming as his assistants. All three men were members of the Team Canada staff at Salt Lake and have indicated a desire to return.
"This is something Wayne [Gretzky] wanted done so that the coaching staff would have input into the player selection process," a source close to Gretzky told ESPN.com. "The bulk of the players that will likely make up the team will be playing in the All-Star Game. With the coaches on board, they can help evaluate the way some of those players are playing."
Gretzky is the executive director for the Canadian entry, a reprise of his role at the Olympics. Lowe, currently the general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, is his assistant again. Tambellini, currently the vice president of player personnel for the Vancouver Canucks, will be director of player personnel again. Sources said Tambellini pushed for the staff to be completed so that the evaluation process could get under way as soon as the All-Star Game concluded. Team rosters must be submitted by mid-May.
The tournament will take place in Europe, Canada and the United States. Montreal, Toronto and St. Paul, Minn., will host the final-round games in North America. Canada, the U.S., Russia and Slovakia will compete in the North American pool. The Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and Germany will compete in the European pool.
The World Cup of Hockey, a joint venture between the NHL, the NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation, was first held in 1996.
The Sept. 14 gold-medal game will be played in Toronto on the eve of the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, after which many believe there will be an extended period of labor unrest in hockey.
Jim Kelley is the NHL writer for ESPN.com. Submit questions or comments to his mail bag.
19hDanny Knobler, Special to ESPN.com