'You're on pal': Biden accepts Trudeau's bet on Habs as Stanley Cup final kicks off

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OTTAWA — With a possible election on the horizon, Justin Trudeau appears ready to roll the dice — on hockey.

The prime minister challenged the U.S. president to a bet Monday as the Montreal Canadiens square off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup final — a gamble Joe Biden readily accepted.

"Two of the best teams in the NHL are facing off right now … how about a friendly wager?" Trudeau proffered to the commander-in-chief in a Twitter post at around 9 p.m., tacking on a "#GoHabsGo" for good measure.

Biden replied three minutes later: "You're on pal. #GoBolts."

The stakes of the bet were not clear, but Trudeau suggested they may be sandwich-based, saying in French during a virtual chat with the head of Quebec's chamber of commerce Tuesday that he has "every confidence that I won't have to buy a few pounds of smoked meat to send him."

Patrick Brazeau, an Algonquin senator from Quebec, weighed in shortly after Biden's reply with a tweet addressed to the president.

"The last time he offered me a 'friendly wager,' I lost and he snipped my hair. #GoHabsGo," Brazeau said of Trudeau, posting a photo of the haircut.

He was referring to a charity boxing match between the two parliamentarians in 2012, when Trudeau, then still a year away from winning the Liberal leadership, proposed that the winner cut the loser's locks.

Trudeau told reporters ahead of the bout that Brazeau had "resisted back a little bit, pointing out that hair has a cultural significance for First Nations peoples, and I said, 'I know, that's why I proposed it: When a warrior cuts his hair, it's a sign of shame, so it's very apropos.'"

Trudeau's comments drew criticism from Indigenous advocates who saw his remarks as demeaning and inconsistent with reconciliation.

In 2019, Brazeau posted that "to his credit @JustinTrudeau wanted to just cut 5mm of my hair after a phone call the day after the fight. I wanted him to cut the entire thing but he said no! I cut a foot more of hair to donate to #cancer research."

The odds have shifted since Trudeau's late-evening tweet — posted with the Canadiens already down by at least a goal — after the Lightning dominated Montreal to win 5-1 in the first game of the series Monday night.

During the Sochi Olympics in 2014, then-president Barack Obama wound up owing former prime minister Stephen Harper two cases of beer when the Canadian women's and men's hockey teams triumphed over their American counterparts.

After the Washington Capitals glided over the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 1998, a humbled prime minister Jean Chrétien paid off a bet to Bill Clinton during the G8 economic summit, donning a Capitals jersey presented to him by the U.S. president.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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