Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan pose after the gold medal game at the 2002 Olympics. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The NHL Fans’ Association and The Hockey News have a few things in common. Both organizations cherish their hockey-mad members (or readers) and both organizations attract hockey fans from both sides of the 49th parallel. The NHLFA has 30,000 members, with approximately 60 percent from the U.S. and 40 percent from Canada.
Now, let’s do our best to put aside national patriotism for a moment and act like North American hockey fanatics. The game is over and it’s time to shake hands and go for a cold one. It’s been a scrappy tilt, but the time on the scoreboard reads zero, so turn off the testosterone and let the post-game analysis begin. We’re just sharing some friendly chatter and if opposing viewpoints arise, that’s OK. We’ll respect each other’s differences.
Observing the great NHL game is so much easier when your patriotic defenses are down and your bonding spirit is embracing a “North American hockey brotherhood” (don’t fret sisters, you are part of this group hug, too).
The NHLFA recently surveyed its members, but kept Canadian- and U.S.-based fan responses separate. Some of the findings were predictable. Half of the hockey citizens of both nations think the competition committee should continue, but agree it is far from a success. Seven out of 10 hockey fans in both countries agree the NHL and its broadcast partners should work on creating better camera angles for television coverage.
Slightly more Canadian fans think the NHL should strive to make improvements to the game to attract more fans (58 percent versus 47 percent by U.S. fans) and more U.S. fans are against the idea of NHL expansion to Europe (87 percent versus 78 percent by Canadian fans).
Seven out of 10 U.S. fans think the NHL does a poor job of marketing the game, while only five out of 10 Canadians share that opinion. Should the NHL attempt to attract more American fans to the game? More than 85 percent of southerners say “yes” while only 55 percent of Canadians agree.
Eight out of 10 Canadian fans think it’s time the NHL hires a new commissioner and 64 percent of American fans concur.
Only four of 10 U.S. fans want two NHL franchises in the Toronto area, while 67 percent of Canadians like the idea.
Before we say farewell to each other after this respectful conversation, the last point discussed was the relocation of financially struggling U.S. teams to Canada. Surprisingly, half (52 percent) of the U.S. fan base says “yes” the NHL should proceed with moving teams north. Not surprisingly, 92 percent of Canadians agree.
You can check out the complete poll results HERE.
The co-founder of the NHL Fans' Association, Jim Boone is the chief operating officer for the Canadian Resident Matching Service and the president of Litnets Inc.