NHL Lockout: Few Canadians Expect to Watch Games on TV This Season (Poll)

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Frustrated hockey fans also question whether they will buy tickets when the league returns to the ice.

TORONTO – Frustrated Canadians are hardly impressed with the NHL and its locked-out players returning to the bargaining table Wednesday, if a local pollster is to be believed.

Few Canadian hockey fans expect to watch NHL games on their TV sets anytime soon, according to an Abacus Data poll released Wednesday.

Six in 10 Canadians questioned told the pollster hockey will not be played in the NHL this year, while 76 percent of NHL fans said the 2012-13 season will be scrapped.

“Across the country, fans and non-fans alike think it is unlikely that they will be able to watch any NHL hockey,” David Coletto, Abacus Data CEO, said as he revealed the poll results.

ANALYSIS: How the NHL's Lockout Hurts NBC

As the NHL lockout drags on, Canadian broadcasters are replacing lost pro league games with programming including junior and European hockey games, and live games from other pro sport leagues.

The Abacus Data survey of 1,505 Canadians was done last Friday, after a three-day bargaining session between the NHL and the NHL Players Association broke down a day earlier.

Both sides in the labor talks have been without a new collective bargaining agreement since Sept. 16, and NHL games have been cancelled through Dec. 30.

Also wiped off the NHL schedule is the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the 2013 NHL All-Star Game, both rallying points for North American broadcasters and advertisers.

The Abacus Data pollsters found Canadian NHL fans are “disappointed and angry at the situation,” and that frustration could lead many to stay away from league arenas when play resumes.

And that could leave many NHL teams facing hefty losses after an eventual new labor deal with the locked-out players is secured.

“With half of previous game attendees saying they are less likely to attend, the financial impact of the lockout on teams could be substantial,” Coletto said.

Worse for the team owners, most Canadians side with the players in the labor dispute.

And when told the NHL does not own the Stanley Cup trophy awarded each year to the top league team, 45 percent of respondents said the trustees should take the championship cup away from the pro league if it scraps the entire season.