PM game to help end lockout

STEPHANIE RUBEC -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Prime Minister Paul Martin has offered to help settle the dispute between the NHL and its players and end the three-month lockout. Martin -- an avid Montreal Canadiens fan -- said he misses Canada's national sport and is ready to take action to end the labour dispute.

"There's always a role for Ottawa if the parties want it," the PM told CBC yesterday.

TIMING 'NOT RIGHT'

Martin said he's already offered his services during private talks with people who he "happens to know" in both the league and players' association, but has so far been turned down.

"The general view that I had picked up is they thought that ... the timing was not right at this time," he said.

Martin said he will jump into the fray if he gets an invitation from both the players and the teams to try and mediate them out of the lockout.

The NHL yesterday rejected last week's proposal from the players' association for a 24% salary rollback.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, meanwhile, joked yesterday that NHL fans are hurting so much during the lockout that he's preparing back-to-work legislation requiring the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs to play every Saturday night.

"We will finally determine who is better," he cracked.

An Edmonton Sun poll yesterday found that 88% of respondents favoured rejecting the players' offer and urged the NHL to hold out for a salary cap, while 43% said the players should be blamed if the season is cancelled.

stephanie.rubec@tor.sunpub.com


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