Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery leaves a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008 in New York. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Frank Franklin II
OTTAWA - A majority of Canadians backed the NHL's decision to temporarily ban bad boy Sean Avery for his potty-mouthed remark about his ex-girlfriends, according to a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll.
Some sixty-three per cent of those surveyed over the weekend said the National Hockey League's six-game suspension was justified, compared to 21 per cent who disagreed. Perhaps surprisingly, the ratio was about the same for men and women.
Breaking down by gender, some 65 of cent of men surveyed thought the suspension was justified, while 22 per cent felt it wasn't. Among women, the split was 62-19.
The telephone survey of slightly more than 1,000 Canadians was conducted between Thursday and Sunday. A sample that size has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The Dallas Star forward was handed the ban after referring to other players dating his "sloppy seconds."Avery was eligible to return from his ban suspension Sunday, but the Stars instead announced Avery will not rejoin the team. The team said it would explore its options with Avery once he gets anger management help.
Two-thirds (66 per cent) of those asked believed that Avery should be allowed to return to the league, compared to 21 per cent who didn't.
"Canadians appear to be in a forgiving mood this Christmas season," Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima senior vice-president, said in a statement. "While they are clearly unimpressed with Sean Avery's recent behaviour, being banned from the league altogether is seen as too harsh a penalty for his actions."
Those over 50 were more likely to say Avery shouldn't be allowed to return.
Avery got the roughest ride in Alberta, where 74 per cent of Albertans surveyed said the suspension was justified, compared to 14 per cent who said it was not. Residents of Quebec were more forgiving, with 58 per cent approving the ban, while 25 per cent said it wasn't justified.
Among other provinces, it was: the Atlantic 63 per cent compared to 24; Ontario 62-21; Manitoba-Saskatchewan 65-22; and B.C. 67-18.