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Canadians less interested in Olympic hockey without NHL players: Angus Reid

Canada vs Sweden: gold medal hockey game
Sidney Crosby #87 of Canada celebrates after scoring his team's second goal in the second period during the Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match against Sweden on Day 16 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Martin Rose / Getty Images

Ever since 1998, National Hockey League (NHL) players have been allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics.

That will change in 2018.  For the first time in 20 years, the Olympics will take place without professional hockey players in the mix.

A new Angus Reid Institute study found that most Canadians believe the men’s hockey competition has lost most of its appeal as a result. In fact, one in five hockey viewers say they’re not going to watch this time around.

RELATED: Canada Olympic House unveiled at PyeongChang Winter Games

Overall, 40 per cent of hockey viewers said they are still just as excited for the tournament, with interest levels for the Winter Games as a whole rising slightly to 58 per cent.

Other numbers showed:

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  • 17 per cent – I’m not going to watch at all anymore
  • 40 per cent – I will still watch with the same level of interest
  • 43 per cent – I will still watch, but I won’t care as much

Canada won the last two men’s hockey competitions at the Winter Games (2010, 2014).