Sports

Poll finds many hockey fans will tune out, punish NHL

Fan excitement after the long lockout so far is nowhere near the euphoria that spilled into Lower Mainland streets during the Vancouver Canucks 2011 Cup run. - File
Fan excitement after the long lockout so far is nowhere near the euphoria that spilled into Lower Mainland streets during the Vancouver Canucks 2011 Cup run.
— image credit: File

Many B.C. hockey fans intend to punish the NHL for the season's long lockout, according to a new poll.

The findings by Insights West found fan support has dropped by nearly half over the course of the lockout, from 60 per cent to 33 per cent.

And 48 per cent are planning to watch less, while 64 per cent say they will go to fewer games during the remainder of the shortened season. Another 44 per cent said they'll buy less merchandise.

"People are mad and they're mad now," said Insights West president Steve Mossop.

But he cautioned it's harder to predict how much of the anger will dissipate in a few months as excitement builds into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Fan hostility played out on Twitter, social media and other commentary through the lockout, he noted.

"The sentiment is even more negative than we initially thought to be the case. I think the NHL may have underestimated the amount of fan disgruntlement."

Those who consider themsleves fanatical or huge hockey followers has dropped from 25 per cent to 12 per cent, according to the survey of more than 600 B.C. adults.

The number who say they're not much of a fan or not a fan at all has nearly tripled from 14 per cent to 42 per cent.

Mossop noted any lingering hostility may have implications for hockey-dependent businesses like pubs and perhaps even NHL-related charities.

For more on this and other polls see www.insightswest.com.

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