NHL

Survey finds Canadian NHL fans OK if country doesn't host playoff games

A web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent of those taking part thought it wasn't important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena should the NHL resume its season in the coming months.

Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto among 10 potential hub cities if, when play resumes

A web survey has found 47 per cent of Canadians who took part said it wasn's important that a city in Canada host a Stanley Cup playoff game if play resumes this summer. Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto are among 10 possible hub cities. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press/File)

It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.

Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.

The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn't important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.

The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada's mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday discussions are on-going with the league and public health authorities.

The survey was conducted May 29 to 31 among 1,536 Canadians and 1,002 Americans, 18 or older, who were randomly recruited from an online panel.

WATCH | Trudeau says 'discussions ongoing' between NHL and authorities:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters on Tuesday 0:27

Since polls created from internet panels are not random samples, the survey can't be assigned a margin of error.

The polling firm says that using data from the 2016 census, results were weighted according to age, gender, mother tongue, and region, level of education and presence of children in the household to ensure a representative sample of the population.

Games to be played in empty arenas

The hockey question, limited to Canadian respondents, revealed 24 per cent felt it was very important for a Canadian city to play host, while 20 per cent said it was somewhat important.

Thirty-five per cent said it was not important at all, 12 per cent felt it was somewhat unimportant and nine per cent didn't know.

The fact the NHL plans to bar spectators from the stands during playoff games due to COVID-19 "probably cooled off a few respondents," said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

Seventy-six per cent of Canadians surveyed said there would be a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared with 62 per cent of Americans who expect one.

WATCH | Should there be an asterisk beside this season's Stanley Cup winner?

Longtime sportscaster John Shannon argues against the dreaded asterisk, saying a win this season should count just the same as any other. 1:06

Three-quarters of Canadians said schools and public places should once again be shut down in such a scenario, while 60 per cent said businesses should close.

Almost half of Canadian respondents said it was impossible to avoid a second wave. More than three-quarters said individuals have a greater responsibility than the government to take adequate measures to try to avoid another wave.

"Whether it's wearing the mask, whether it's keeping a safe two metres [from others], I think mostly this tells me that Canadians will want to remain fairly disciplined over the next couple of months, because of that fear of a second wave," Bourque said.

WATCH | Oilers' McDavid, Nurse weigh in on NHL's imperfect playoff plan:

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was part of the NHL/NHLPA's Return to Play Committee, and his teammate Darnell Nurse discuss the creation of the NHL's 24-team playoff plan. 1:57

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