With ice hockey recognized and declared to be the national winter sport of Canada, it is hardly a surprise to find that the National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the most popular sports leagues followed within the country.
Indeed, it also helps that there are seven teams that currently play in the major professional sports league from the region, with each of the teams being supported well throughout the country.
For those unaware, the teams that are in the NHL currently are: the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Vancouver Canucks, the Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames, the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets.
Given that ice hockey is recognized nationally as its winter sport, it has continued to grow in popularity with those who like to wager, as many are looking up questions such as how to legally bet on the NHL from Canada to try and help further enhance their overall sports experience when watching what takes place on the ice.
However, when taking a look at how the entirety of Canada is supporting the teams that are involved, it becomes rather interesting as each region has its preference that does not always fit the narrative that many would have initially expected.
Let’s take a look at each region within Canada and note what team is supported within that particular province. However, it might be best to take a look at the country overall, as this may just provide some crucial data first.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens Canada’s favourite hockey teams
In a recent study that was conducted, it was found that both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens were amongst the most supported teams within the whole of Canada. One report suggested that the Maple Leafs had edged the Habs out just slightly, with 27% of the country supporting the Leafs compared to 26% who support the Habs.
There are a few different reasons why these figures could be as high as they are, with the two franchises being part of the “Original Six” to have joined the NHL, with the Canadiens being the only team to be older than the NHL as they were founded in 1909 with the league being created in 1917 (when the Maple Leafs joined).
Additionally, the two teams have been amongst the most successful in the sport, with 37 Stanley Cups between them as of the 2021/22 season; the Canadiens have 24 and the Leafs have 13, although it has been a while since either of them won a championship.
Popularity by regions
When taking a look at the popularity of each team by region, it becomes clearer as to why the two teams have such a high fan base compared to many of the teams located within Canada, although some of the results are rather surprising.
For instance, it is hardly a surprise to learn that the Canadiens are incredibly popular in the state of Quebec, as it is where they are based, whilst the team is the only nominally French team in the league, thus those who speak the language can feel associated with them.
Starting on the west coast and working east, it is hardly a surprise to learn that the province of British Columbia largely backs the Vancouver Canucks, whilst Alberta sees a rather even split between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
Saskatchewan & Manitoba unsurprisingly see the Winnipeg Jets get a large portion of the support, whilst Ontario has the Toronto Maple Leafs almost dominating the area in regards to their popularity over other teams in the NHL despite the fact it is home to the Ottawa Senators, as well.
Following in Quebec’s footsteps – and perhaps unsurprisingly given its location – the region of Atlantic Canada also adopts the Montreal Canadiens as its most supported team, although this could simply be down to the history of the franchise and how well they did in the past.
Indeed, when looking at teams such as the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets, there could be a couple of outliers that can be the reasoning behind why their teams are not necessarily well supported around the entirety of Canada.
For instance, whilst the Jets are established within the region that they are located in, there is no doubt that they are not supported like other franchises elsewhere. This could be due to the fact that they are a relatively new franchise.
The Senators have to compete with the Maple Leafs, and with the team gaining a large amount of popularity from Ontario and beyond, as well as much of the broadcasting and the fact that many of the older residents in Ottawa will likely be Leafs fans, it could always be a hard task for them to be any bigger than they are unless they are able to win a Stanley Cup; something they are yet to do as of the beginning of the 2021/22 NHL season.