VANCOUVER - A new poll suggests the majority of Canadians don't care whether the two sides in the National Hockey League labour dispute reach an agreement.
The poll, conducted Dec. 11-16 by NRG Research Group and Peak Communications, surveyed 801 individuals in six regions across Canada.
Respondents were asked the following question: "Do you think the NHL lockout will be settled in the next couple of weeks; in the new year in time for a shortened season to be played; not until it's too late for games to be played this season; or don't you care?"
Fifty eight per cent of respondents said they did not care. Only five per cent thought a deal could be done in the next couple of weeks and the season would start up in 2012, while eight per cent thought a deal could be done in the new year in time for a shortened season to be played. Twenty-five per cent believe it is too late for any kind of season to be salvaged. The remaining four per cent either did not know or refused to answer.
"I was a little bit surprised how many people said I don't really care what they do," Brian Owen, CEO and founder of NRG Research Group, said in an interview Tuesday. "Fifty-eight per cent is a pretty good number.
"My conclusion is that the fan base is a narrower segment of the (Canadian) population than I had initially thought and that maybe the assumption that Canada is hockey-mad applies to maybe 25 per cent of the population as opposed to 100 per cent of the population."
Owen said the poll result can not be encouraging news for the NHL or its players.
"When 58 per cent of the population say they don't care, there is a high level of indifference and the people responsible for the game have to be aware that potentially could grow if they don't get this thing solved."
A survey of 801 people provides results with a confidence interval of plus or minus 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.
NRG Research Group is a public affairs and market research company, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg.
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