No NHL hockey will likely mean no hockey at all for some Canadians this fall.
According to a joint Ipsos Reid and RBC survey released on Thursday, only 56 per cent of hockey fans in this country feel the game will still “be a part of their life” during the lockout.
The differences are regional ones in some cases, too. Those in Atlantic Canada said they were the most likely to keep hockey in their lives (70 per cent) while Albertans were the least likely at only 45 per cent.
(What’s interesting about that is that minor hockey enrolment is also sky high in Atlantic provinces like Prince Edward Island these days, and junior hockey is exceptionally popular with the relatively new teams in that area. Something is happening on the East Cost.)
This poll was conducted in late September and it surveyed more than 1,000 Canadians on their thoughts on the NHL lockout, which began Sept. 15 when the league’s last collective bargaining agreement expired.
One portion of the survey also sought to answer just how hard core Canadian hockey fans are. Only 3 per cent considered themselves to be die hards, while 24 per cent were enthusiasts, 23 per cent were bandwagon fans and another 29 per cent were social watchers.
The remainder (21 per cent), presumably, aren’t hockey fans at all.
As for how those who do consider themselves fans will fill their time without NHL games to attend or watch on TV, the answers were all over the map.
Forty five per cent intend to watch hockey at a community rink while 17 per cent answered they will be playing the game themselves and 17 per cent will be playing hockey video games.
Nearly one-third of Canadians said they will watch other sports during the lockout and 17 per cent will exercise or play other sports. Thirteen per cent answered they will simply get more sleep.
Most didn’t feel the lockout will hurt the game at the minor hockey level, however, with 86 per cent of those surveyed said they felt grassroots hockey wouldn’t be negatively impacted by the NHLers not taking to the ice.
What fans weren’t asked in this particular poll was if they intend to return to watching and attending NHL games with the same fervour whenever this work stoppage finally ends.
After the 2004-05 lockout wiped out an entire season, it was mainly the Canadian fans that really helped pick the league back up, returning in droves to fill buildings and make their teams some of the wealthiest in the game.
There’s a growing sense this time around that hockey fans are more fed up with the league, however. Time will tell if Canadians continue to find other things to do with their time and if that’s ultimately felt at the gate.