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NHL Hockey-message from fans-players and owners-get it together-NOW
  Sep 12, 2004

A computerized telephone sample of 500 respondents between September 10-13, 2004 who were qualified to the extent that they are “reasonably loyal fans that frequently watch NHL hockey games on television or listen to them on the radio”. These respondents were collected from a general pool within the lower mainland of Greater Vancouver. The margin of error in this survey is 3.25%, 18 times out of 20 @ 98% competency. This survey was sponsored in part by a personal honourarium from Mr. Len Burquist, General Manager of Best Western Inn and Suites in Port Coquitlam, BC.

Question #1
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement-Over the past two years I have attended ‘a few’ NHL hockey games:
Agree    13.60 %
Disagree    86.40 %
Question #2
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement-Over the past two years I have attended more than ‘a few’ NHL hockey games:
Agree    2.20 %
Disagree    96.80 %
Question #3
It is highly likely that an NHL season for 2004-2005 will not come about, due to a breakdown in negotiations between the NHL Players Association, the Union representing the NHL Players, and the League represented by President Gary Bettman, who represents the interests of the owners of NHL Teams. Which of the following statements BEST represents which side is most responsible for the current impasse in negotiations relating to the NHL Hockey negotiations?
The players are demanding too much    35.00 %
the owners permitted high salaries in the first place    14.20 %
Both the players and owners are equally to blame, and the fan suffers as a result    50.80 %
Question #4
-Professional Golfers, including those on the P.G.A. tour do not receive any money for their play unless they are successful. These golfers must also pay their own expenses for travel, food, accommodation etc. In your opinion, would NHL hockey be ‘better off’ if NHL players were paid on a performance basis only?
Yes    36.40 %
No    59.40 %
Commentary
Of the ‘pool’ of respondents in this survey, it is clear that approximately one-half of “reasonably loyal NHL hockey fans that frequently watch NHL games on television, or listen to them on the radio” blame both the players and the owners for the current impasse in negotiations.
Those respondents who DO NOT attend games, but are “reasonably loyal NHL hockey fans that frequently watch NHL games on television, or listen to them on the radio” blame the players significantly more than the owners. Respondents who attend NHL hockey games are more inclined to blame both sides, with those who attend more than a few games being ‘slightly’ more inclined to side with the players.
The NHL players were viewed with the least sympathy in this survey of “reasonably loyal NHL hockey fans that frequently watch NHL games on television or listen to them on the radio.” Sympathy increased when respondents attended more NHL hockey games. However this pattern of support appeared to be contradicted somewhat by the performance and pay issue raised in Question #4.
If the NHL season does not proceed, it is possible that the NHL players could lose their greatest support, the fans that pay for the tickets to games. The owners would lose only a little support from fans generally, but worse yet; they will lose advertising revenue derived from broadcasting games, ticket revenue, and product revenue. The biggest issue however is the possibility that in the event an NHL season is lost, all parties in this sports relationship will lose: the fans who love the game, the owners through lost goodwill, and the players who will lose the fans support, and direct fan support even more so.
Although it is in the best interests of both the owners and the players association to negotiate a settlement, this survey suggests the players might want to make the first move towards reconciliation.
This survey was conducted during World Hockey Championships. It is not clear if respondents were influenced more positively or negatively one way or the other by this event being broadcast on television during the duration of the survey.

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