April 7, 2017 10:04 am

62% of Canadians disapprove of NHL’s Olympic decision: Poll

Team Canada poses for a photo after winning the gold medal game against the USA in the men's ice hockey gold medal final at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010.

The Canadian Press / Jonathan Hayward

Players have spoken out about it, and now a new poll shows the majority of Canadians also disagree with the NHL’s decision to skip the 2018 Olympics.

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The NHL announced Monday it will not interrupt next season to accommodate the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, even though players had taken part in the past five Winter Olympics.

READ MORE: NHL won’t participate in 2018 Olympics; league says matter ‘officially closed’

“Overall, 62 per cent of Canadians say this was the wrong decision,” Mainstreet Research president Quito Maggi said. The pollster conducted a random telephone survey of 1,500 Canadians on April 3 and 4.

The number of disappointed Canadians was lowest in Ontario, at 58 per cent, and highest in the Prairies, at 68 per cent. “Only 12 per cent of Canadians said they weren’t sure or didn’t know,” Maggi added.

The outrage seems to be limited to this side of the border. “Canadians are up in arms but many Americans don’t seem to have an opinion on this,” Maggi explained.

READ MORE: With no NHL, who will play for Team Canada at the 2018 Olympics?

Mainstreet also did a random survey of just over 1,000 Americans during the same time they conducted the Canadian poll. When Americans were asked the same question, few had an opinion — Maggi said 62 per cent said they were not sure or didn’t know.

“Americans are essentially split, with 18 per cent saying it was a good decision and 20 per cent saying it was a bad decision.”

“That may be the reason the NHL felt it could make this move in the first place. The American market is much larger than the Canadian one.”

WATCH ABOVE: Former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth says he’s disappointed with the NHL’s decision not to participate in the 2018 Olympics.

Several current and former NHL players have shared their own disappointment.

“It’s a sad day for sure in the hockey world when something like this happens,” said former Edmonton Oilers captain Ryan Smyth, who has well over a decade of international experience representing Canada, including an Olympic gold medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The best players in the world play in the NHL and you want the best players at the Olympics,” Smyth said.

He said not being able to see the world’s elite, such as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, play together is a major blow, not just for the athletes but the fans as well.

“Can you imagine seeing those two either playing together or on the same team and representing their country with pride? It’s for sure a sad day for the fans.”

READ MORE: Ryan Smyth disappointed with NHL’s Olympic decision: ‘It’s a sad day for the fans’

McDavid agreed. “Obviously the Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world and not to be able to do that is disappointing,” he said on Tuesday.

Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring the matchwinning goal in overtime during the ice hockey men’s gold medal game between USA and Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

“You look at those great moments like Sid (Crosby scoring a gold medal-winning goal for Canada in 2010) and those are the goals that you dream of scoring as a kid and not to be able to have that opportunity is, like I keep saying, disappointing.”

READ MORE: Connor McDavid calls NHL’s decision to skip 2018 Olympics a ‘bit upsetting’

Meanwhile Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin insists that he’ll still attend in South Korea and Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis supports that stance.

Unless the NHL and the International Olympic Committee come to a last-minute agreement Team Canada will be without stars like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and Connor McDavid.

Both landlines and cellphone numbers were used for the Mainstreet poll. The Canadian survey margin of error was +/-2.53 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The American survey margin of error was +/- 3.07 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Below: The Mainstreet poll results.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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