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NHL Lockout Causes ‘Alarming’ Damage To League’s Relationship With Fans, According To Study

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NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Just how badly has the NHL lockout damaged the relationship between the league and its fans? According to one study, it’s reached BP oil spill levels.

Suffice it to say, things have gotten pretty bad.

The Globe and Mail in Toronto reported Tuesday on a study conducted by Level5 Strategy Group which measured the “emotional attachment” people have with the league amid the lockout, which began in mid-September.

“We found damage at levels we have not seen. It’s quite alarming, really,” David Kincaid, CEO of Level5, told The Globe and Mail.

The company interviewed 1,066 people, and only one-third of Canadians labeled themselves as “passionate” about hockey, with one-third neutral and the other third uninterested. The study revealed that those people who claimed to be neutral have become more interested by football, both the NFL and CFL.

“If we had done this study 10 years ago, 20 years ago, we would have seen half of Canadians or more say they were passionate about the game,” Kincaid said.

Of the emotions felt by fans, “significant unhappiness, disappointment, confusion, irritation and frustration,” as well as feeling cheated are chief among them. Level5, which has conducted studies for the NFL and NBA among other companies in the past, said that the worst results it ever gathered were for BP, following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, but the NHL’s results were worse.

It’s something that the NHL and NHLPA might want to keep in mind this week as they continue to fight each other for PR victories, file legal grievances against each other and, above all, fail to reach a resolution to bring hockey back to the fans. They’ve already lost many of them.

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