Playoff hockey drought for Canada's teams could prompt many fans to change channel

With none of Canada's seven NHL teams making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, 54 per cent of Canadians who regularly watch playoff hockey are planning to watch less this year, according to an online survey from the Angus Reid Institute.

Poll suggests waning interest after no Canadian teams make NHL playoffs

For the first time since 1970, no Canadian teams will compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Paul Chiasson/Associated Press)

With none of Canada's seven NHL teams making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, 54 per cent of Canadians who usually watch playoff hockey believe they'll watch less this year, suggests an online survey from the Angus Reid Institute.

According to the poll, 35 per cent of regular playoff viewers said they expect to watch less playoff hockey this year, and 19 per cent said they won't watch at all. Thirty per cent said they would watch about as much playoff hockey as they normally would.

Even among respondents who described themselves as "diehard" hockey fans, 47 per cent said they will watch less playoff hockey this year, and 12 per cent don't expect to watch a single game.

However, eight per cent of those diehard fans said they expect to watch more playoff hockey this year, and 33 per cent said their playoff-watching habits will remain the same.

National loyalty during the playoffs

Canadian hockey fans are more likely to root for other Canadian teams in the playoffs, even after their favourite team gets eliminated, the survey suggests.

Among those who follow hockey, 57 per cent said they would cheer for another Canadian team, while 14 per cent said they would not. Thirty per cent were more circumspect in their answers, saying they would support some Canadian teams in the playoffs, but not those they consider rivals to their hometown heroes.

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the 2015 Stanley Cup. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

With no Canadian teams in the playoffs this year, though, respondents who expect to watch the playoffs were asked to name up to two U.S. teams they would most likely support.

Last year's championship-winning Chicago Blackhawks were far and away the most popular choice, named by 46 per cent of respondents. They were followed by the Boston Bruins (26 per cent), Pittsburgh Penguins (25 per cent) and Detroit Red Wings (21 per cent).

Hope for the future

The Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, in 1993.

When asked which of Canada's teams will bring the Cup home to Canada again, 26 per cent of survey respondents who followed hockey named the Canadiens. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the next most popular choice, with 11 per cent saying they would be the next Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, followed by the Edmonton Oilers with 10 per cent.

The Winnipeg Jets were the least popular choice to win the Cup in the future, named by just three per cent of respondents. Another three per cent said "no Canadian team will ever win the Cup again."

Fans of the Calgary Flames were most likely to choose their own team as the next Canadian Stanley Cup winner, at 58 per cent. Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens fans were almost as loyal to their clubs.

The Montreal Canadiens were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, in 1993. It won't be happening this year. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

This year marks the first time since 1970 that no Canadian teams have made the NHL's post-season schedule.

Slumping Canadian interest in playoff hockey could be bad news for Rogers Media, which in 2013 spent $5.2 billion on a 12-year deal for the exclusive Canadian broadcast rights to all NHL games.

The survey, commissioned and administered by the Angus Reid Institute, was conducted between March 28 and March 31. It surveyed a sample of 1,522 Canadian adults who participate in the Angus Reid Forum, an online market research tool used to survey member opinions in exchange for rewards.


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