VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The National Hockey League’s North Division has made for new storylines and renewed Canadian rivalries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new Angus Reid Institute poll suggests most fans would like things to go back to normal next fall.
The NHL has stated the all-Canadian competition will be only a one-year configuration, assuming teams can fly back and forth across the border during the 2021-22 season.
Almost two thirds of hockey fans polled want the seven Canadian NHL teams to go back to normal next year, which for Vancouver Canucks fans means a lot more of the LA Kings, San Jose Sharks, and the expansion Seattle Kraken. It also means a lot less of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens.
The division is a hit, though mainly for hardcore fans. Fifty-two per cent feel the all-Canadian division makes the season more exciting, and younger viewers are tuning in this winter too.
Thirty-two per cent of men aged 18 to 34 say they’re watching more hockey this winter, although 30 per cent of men, and 32 per cent of women overall figure they’re spending less time in front of the screen.
The polling agency figures the Vancouver Canucks’ recent struggles have disproportionately affected viewing habits in British Columbia, too.
The Canucks start the month of March in 6th place and finished the month of February with just two wins from 13 games played.
Twenty-eight per cent of British Columbian fans polled say the North Division is less exciting than normal compared to only 19 per cent nationwide, and only 10 per cent in Atlantic Canada where there’s no home team to live and die with.
Overall about two thirds of British Columbian fans would be happy to scrap the Canadian division next season.2020.02.28_Hockey_North_division_release_tables
The top four teams in the North Division will make the playoffs meaning there will be a Canadian club in the NHL’s final four for the first time since the Winnipeg Jets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2018. No Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens 28 years ago.