Why are Canadians so crazy about hockey?

To the non-Canadians reading this, you may wonder if the hockey stereotypes about Canadians are true. “Canadians can’t be THAT crazy about hockey.” I’m sorry (woo stereotypes), but shut your mouth. We are beyond ravenous for people smashing into other people, beating the stuffing out of each other, and shooting a vulcanized piece of rubber in the middle of three red posts. Canadians have developed a love for this game to the point where we have accepted it as a national icon. Obviously I can’t speak for a whole nation, but I guarantee the numbers showing our passion for our national pastime are ridiculous.

With 5 out of 7 Canadian NHL teams selling out 100% or more in attendance for the 2013-2014 season, and the other two who had 99.9% and 94.5% of attendance (Edmonton and Ottawa respectively), Canadians love their NHL teams. Three out of the four most valuable teams in the NHL are Canadian, with remaining four being in the top 16.

It doesn’t stop there though, here is the attendance statistics from the past fourteen years of World Junior Ice Hockey Championships:

World Junior Hockey Attendance Figures

Year Host Per Match Total
2012 Alberta 14,668 455,342
2009 Ottawa 14,622 453,282
2011 Buffalo 10,635 329,687
2006 British Columbia 10,488 325,138
2010 Saskatchewan 9,740 301,944
2003 Nova Scotia 7,790 241,504
2005 North Dakota 6,234 193,256
2014 Sweden 4,654 144,268
2002 Czech Republic 3,250 110,828
2013 Russia 3,554 110,175
2008 Czech Republic 3,328 103,179
2004 Finland 3,244 100,551
2001 Russia 2,424 82,400
2007 Sweden 2,048 63,493
2000 Sweden 1,191 41,693

Table 1 Statistics collected from the WJC Wikipedia Pages

Looking at this table, five out of the top seven tournaments with the best attendances were Canadian, and the other two tournaments were border hugging States North Dakota and Buffalo. Sweden 2014, the highest selling non-Canadian/Canadian border hugging WJC would have to sell 3.14 times more tickets, or 311,074 tickets, to match the highest selling Canadian tournament.

This is just the tip of the ice berg. Here is a video at a mall in Ottawa for the 2014 Olympic Games Canada vs. USA Women’s Hockey final:

Notice the lack of jerseys, this is people who were going about their day and dropping what they were doing at the sight of hockey to watch the game.

Then there is the Men’s final:

Photo Credit: Beat The Traffic GTA

That’s the Canadian Highway 401 Toronto, AKA the busiest highway in the world, during the Canada vs. USA’s gold medal hockey game.

So I don’t have to twist your ear anymore, we Canadians are crazy about hockey. I personally have been molded into this hockey fanatic. I watch every Leafs game (please don’t leave, I am level headed I swear). When a Leafs game isn’t on, I will watch another hockey game. When it is -30 degrees Celsius outside, I think it’s a great idea to play pond hockey. Most importantly, I was driven by this passion so much to create this website.

How does this happen though? How come most Canadian families wake up and grab a Tim Hortons (I can keep these stereotypes coming) coffee at 4 am to bring their kids to hockey practice? Why have most of us dedicated their Saturday nights to Hockey Night in Canada? Why is a sport that important?


Photo by Tim Hortons

Well it starts out when we are very young. We are indoctrinated into the sport as if it were a religion. Parents start us out at the ripe young age of four, or in my case, three (as a result of a hockey crazed family) with the dream of becoming an icon for the sport. We go to practice early in the mornings at least once a week in one of the arenas each town has (we have towns as small as 1000 people that have their own hockey arenas), then we play hockey games at night a couple nights of the week. That’s at least three times a week that we are at the rink starting at the age of four.

So now that we are all done playing hockey for the day, let’s watch some TV. Before advancements in cable and satellite television, all we had was over the air television which had less than 10 channels, the Canadian Government funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) being one of them. So what does the CBC show? Run of the mill stuff: news, popular American shows, and of course Hockey Night in Canada. We literally couldn’t escape from hockey.

Fellow Beer League Blogger Jordan Montean (left) and I (right) skating on the Rideau Canal after getting bombed watching the stressful Canada vs. Latvia game. Photo by Karley Doucette

Conspiracy theories aside though, it’s just a fun way for us to occupy our time. Most of the people in the world go to work day in and day out and just want a way to unwind at the end of the day. For Americans, it’s Football. For Europeans, it’s soccer. For us Canadians, it turned out to be hockey. Nothing is more satisfying than sitting down on a Saturday night listening to Don Cherry and Ron Maclean give their speech of the evening knowing that there are millions of Canadians like myself doing the same. It’s just a sport like any other, but we developed it as a part of our cultural identity. There is nothing like the feeling of going to a sports bar in the nation’s capital donning the Team Canada jersey and cheering on with your fellow Canadians with each goal that is scored. We are crazy about it because we choose to be crazy about it. It’s a national identity because we want it to be our national identity. It is our passion, because we want it to be our passion.

Check out my article about the changes coming to Hockey Night in Canada this year!

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Cover Photo by Darren Calabrese via National Post

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