Harper, Putin not playing Summit Series hockey galas: PMO

The Prime Minister's Office denied Monday that Stephen Harper will face off against Vladimir Putin in two hockey games to mark the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, won't be facing off in two hockey exhibitions. (AFP/Getty Images)

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 story is false. The prime minister will not be playing hockey against Mr. Putin."—PMO spokesman Andrew MacDougall

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.

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."