Sunday, October 21, 2007

No wandering out of the zone for NHL Fans…

If voting members of the NHLFA were around at the time of Columbus, the world would still be flat and exploration of new lands would be left on the back burner.

In a recent fan poll, the respondents to questions put forward by the NHL Fans Association closed the door to the idea of European expansion, as 82 per cent of poll respondents said that they are against the NHL even exploring expansion to Europe, A surprising amount considering the recent trial balloons that have been floated about a potential NHL division based in Europe.

Of course as there was no breakdown on the number of votes returned in from the some 30,000 potential NHLFA voters, we don’t really know how reflective that 82 per cent is of hockey fans that have signed up with the Fan group.

Other questions that concerned NHL fans were the new look, tighter fitting sweaters which haven’t apparently caught on with the fashionistas of the NHLFA, with 43 per cent of those answering the poll suggesting that the league made a mistake and should return to last year’s looser-fitting sweaters, 29 per cent said they liked the new sweaters just fine thank you very much.

66 per cent of those who answered the poll thought the 20-game suspension given to the Philadelphia Flyers’ Steve Downie was just right, while 21 per cent disagreed with the NHL’s punishment.

And it seems that NHLFA members are a hearty lot, as 84 per cent said that they thought the idea of an outdoor game such as the planned New years day game in Buffalo was just fine, only 7 per cent felt that hockey was best left to the indoor palaces with their skyboxes and varied menu of between period treats..

The NHLFA was created back in 1998 starting out with 3000 members, nine years later they are closing in on 30,000. Since those early days they have solicited opinion from hockey fans and have lobbied on behalf of them to try and provide a fans perspective to the game.

There’s no charge to join, but donations are most likely quite welcome. Most importantly though is the feedback that they receive from the hockey fan base, it will be interesting to see how those fans respond over the season to the various issues that the NHLFA bring up, of particular interest to Canadian fans might be the topic of expansion within Canada.

Perhaps that is why the prospect of European expansion got such a determined thumbs down, with hockey markets such as Hamilton, Quebec City and Winnipeg still shut out from the NHL, Canadian hockey fans might like to see the home front better taken care of, before the league wanders across the oceans.

Until that time, like the days of the 1400's, it would seem that the taking the NHL ship out to sea isn't worth the trouble and that there's hardly anyplace outside the country worth exploring.

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