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Stephen Harper says southern Ontario could support another NHL club

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\"I'd love another NHL team in Canada . . . particularly southern Ontario can support another team,\" Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday in Prague where he is attending trade talks with the European Union. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Count the prime minister among those backing another NHL team in southern Ontario.

Stephen Harper says the region could support a second NHL club. It could become a reality if Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie has his way.

On Tuesday, the Canadian billionaire made a US$212.5-million offer to buy the financially ailing Phoenix Coyotes. The deal is conditional on moving the Coyotes to southern Ontario.

"I'd love another NHL team in Canada . . . particularly southern Ontario can support another team," Harper said Wednesday in Prague where he is attending trade talks with the European Union.

While Harper didn't want to comment specifically on the Balsillie deal he did say he's tried to talk up southern Ontario to the NHL.

"I have even (mentioned) to a couple of NHL owners I think southern Ontario is ripe to support more than one NHL team," said Harper, a keen fan and hockey historian.

Balsillie would not say which city in the region he was targeting - Hamilton and the Kitchener-Waterloo area have been his hockey grounds of choice in the past.

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