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Russia's Putin vs. Canada's Harper on ice? Not true, Harper's office says

TORONTO -- The Prime Minister's Office is denying a published report that Stephen Harper is making plans to play hockey this fall against his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivers his speech during a campaign stop in Montreal, Quebec, Canada Friday April 29, 2011. Until a few days ago, Monday's election looked set to give Canada another mandate for the Conservative government. Instead, Prime Minister Harper could be out of a job if polls are right in predicting a late surge for the left. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)

TORONTO -- The Prime Minister's Office is denying a published report that Stephen Harper is making plans to play hockey this fall against his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

The Prime Minister's Office says the claim is false.

The Toronto Star cited unnamed sources as saying Harper was making plans to play on a Canadian hockey team in two exhibition games against a Russian team that would include Putin.

The two exhibition games would help mark the 40th anniversary of the Canada-U.S.S.R. Summit Series.

The front-page report says the first game was scheduled for Sept. 7 in Moscow as part of a month-long event to mark the eight-game series, which was played at the height of the Cold War.

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A source also told the Star a second game featuring Harper and Putin was being planned in Toronto, tentatively for Sept. 28.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office, Andrew MacDougall, said the story is not correct and that Harper will not be playing hockey against Putin.

Canada lost three of the first five games but went on to win the series, which has since become a pivotal moment in Canadian sports history.

Putin, now 59, has only been playing hockey for a year or so while Harper, who is 52, played just three years of organized hockey before the age of 13.

"The story is false," MacDougall said in an email. "The prime minister will not be playing hockey against Mr. Putin."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures while a national call-in TV show in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. Putin said the results of Russia's parliamentary election reflected the people's will, and that the opposition had alleged vote fraud purely to strengthen its position. "The results of this election undoubtedly reflect the real balance of power in the country," he said, speaking in a national call-in TV show. "It's very good that United Russia has preserved its leading position." He...

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