Flames fire up Martin

BILL KAUFMANN --Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:49 PM ET

 Prime Minister Paul Martin tied his electoral fortunes to a Flames Stanley Cup win during a huddle with team members yesterday.

 As he and his wife Sheila donned No. 1 flaming-C jerseys bearing the Martin name in the squad's Saddledome dressing room, the prime minister pitched himself as a Flames fan ready to ride the team's fate.

  "They're synonymous -- the same thing," said a beaming Martin when asked if the Flames or Liberals will triumph.

 "You are Canada's team -- there's no doubt about it ... you can walk down the streets of Montreal and see all kinds of kids wearing your sweaters."

 Martin kibitzed with a knot of Flames players that included snipers Jarome Iginla and Martin Gelinas.

 "You'll be (up) three games to one when you go back to Tampa Bay," Martin assured the grinning players.

 "We're honoured to have you both here," said Iginla.

 When asked if he thought Martin was truly a Flames fan, Gelinas said: "He's a politician," and wouldn't say if the team was being exploited for political gain.

 Noting the party and team shared the same primary colour, club president Ken King said he doesn't object to be dubbed the Liberals' team.

 "We're Edmonton's team, Lethbridge's team and maybe the Liberal party's team -- we're very open to who can adopt us," said King.

 Later, Martin wore the jersey to a rally for local Liberal candidates at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre.

 "First, the Calgary Flames will win the Stanley Cup, then the Liberals will win the election," he told about 300 faithful.


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