OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he's saddened by the lockout that has paralysed the NHL.

In an interview with French broadcaster TVA, Harper says he's finding some consolation by turning his attention to the world junior hockey championship that starts later this month in Russia.

Harper says he finds the NHL's labour dispute sad for the players who've worked hard since childhood to get to where they are. But he adds he also feels bad for the team owners, who he says hold the positions they do because of their love for the sport.

The prime minister says he's especially sad to see relations between owners and players fractured to a point where the national sport could be in peril.

Harper says he knows that hockey is a business, but that depriving fans of a full season twice in eight years isn't good for the NHL.

The lockout is into its 14th week and has already resulted in the cancellation of 526 regular-season games through Dec. 30.

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