A poll by the Environics Institute of Toronto published Friday says more Canadians find hockey to be of import in their country and that an overwhelmingly number of them want to see less violence in the game. The survey polled 1,001 Canadians.
One of the most telling questions in the poll - conducted online between May 2 and 7 - concerns violence and the steps fans are willing to take to reduce concussions, a big issue for hockey at the professional and amateur level in recent years. One question asked if respondents would support "every step possible to prevent concussions, even if this means changing the way the game is played" and 87 percent said they support that notion.
Hockey support in Canada
While Canada has always been considered the world's originators of hockey and the country that loves the game perhaps more than any other, it is still growing in the country. Forty-six percent said that they totally agree with the statement that hockey is "a key part of what it means to be a Canadian," up from 35 percent who agreed with the same question in 2010. The 2010 survey was conducted in January, a month before Canada won gold in hockey at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
For the question 'what type of hockey do you enjoy more" of 3 possible answers 50 percent said NHL playoff hockey, 27 percent said Olympic hockey and 23 percent said they don't watch hockey. That suggests those fans who want concussions out of the game regardless of how the game may have to change to do it, want the NHL to be less violence even at the expense of making dramatic changes.
Canadian hockey fans and the NHL
The NHL handed out 39 suspensions in the regular season - and more in the playoffs - by far the greatest total in the history of the league. This 'crackdown' has been spurred by fans and images in the media of violent acts during NHL games leaving players badly injured. The poll suggests fans in Canada want the trend toward lengthy suspensions to continue and, if anything, grow more severe and the Environics polls takes note of that.
"The research reveals that Canadians still love their hockey," the poll says in its conclusion. "But at the same time are now looking to the NHL to do what is necessary to keep players on the ice and out of the hospital."