Sports in the Maritimes
December 16, 2014 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Who do the Canadian Maritimes root for in the major sports?

With no major sports teams east of Quebec (as far as I know) who do the Maritime Provinces root for? Is there an aversion to Quebec teams because Quebec? Does one of the Maritimes favor one team while others choose another? Do they choose New England or other American teams? Will a team in any league ever end up there?
posted by Crashback to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
 
I don't know about the maritimes, but I think Newfoundland roots for the Maple Leafs because they had an AHL (i.e. minor league) team in St. John's.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:20 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anecdote: All of my relatives in the Maritimes (they live in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) root for Les Canadiens. Except that one cousin who roots for Boston.
posted by winterportage at 9:33 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


For the NHL, it seems like the Maple Leafs are a big team, but so are the Canadiens. Generally it seems like people root for Canadian teams first although it's really pretty individual, or passed on from generation to generation in some cases (I'm technically a Canadiens fan because of my dad and his dad, although I don't really care that much).

I think geography would also come into it, especially since it's cheaper to go to Boston or Toronto or Montreal than it is to other places.
posted by sarae at 2:15 AM on December 17, 2014


I grew up in Newfoundland with lots of Habs fans, so there's that. Other than that, it's pretty much the Leafs and the Bruins and the original six. Depends who you talk to.

Newfoundland isn't actually a Maritime province. It's part of Atlantic Canada, yes, but not the Maritimes. Just clarifying because I'm not sure if it was meant to be included in this question.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:11 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Halifax has a strong Crosby contingent, so there's the home town boy aspects to consider for some of the more distant teams. And I think generally the "not Toronto" wins over "not Quebec" .
posted by platypus of the universe at 4:41 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


From Halifax. My friends and family cheer for Montreal, Boston, and Toronto. And my dad recently admitted to being an Ottawa fan (he grew up there). I would say Montreal over Toronto because of that whole 'centre of the universe' thing. Generally, the Martimers I know would cheer for a Canadian team first, then Boston. My parents do kind of follow the Penguins for Crosby (much like I get updates on other local kids' careers) but that's just a temporary thing not their real team. Nordiques were never that big but I see that logo (and Winnipeg) around on clothing still.

(NB Newfoundland isn't technically the Maritimes but I see that's been covered)
posted by hydrobatidae at 6:35 AM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


In the past, if you believe Wayne Johnston, it was broken down by religion. The Catholics root for Les Canadiens and the protestants like the Leafs. When my parents were growing up there was a lot of distance and distrust between the catholic and protestant communities in Nova Scotia.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:29 AM on December 17, 2014


From Halifax. My friends and family cheer for Montreal, Boston, and Toronto.

I could have written the same sentence. Though I'm from Dartmouth, to be perfectly honest.

I've wondered if the support for Boston comes from the traditional connection of the Maritimes with that city. My great-uncles and great-great uncles from rural NS almost all went down to Massachusetts to work. They referred to New England as "The Boston States".
posted by beau jackson at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is a long tradition of Halifax (and Nova Scotia) cheering for Boston in all sports.

There are deep ties between the two cities. This comes in part from the assistance Boston gave to Halifax in 1917 when a munitions ship exploded in the harbor, killing thousands and destroying a good part of the city. In the immediate aftermath, the people of Boston sent a supply train to Halifax, some of the first outside help to arrive.

In 1918, Halifax sent a huge Christmas tree to thank Boston; a tradition that was revived in the 70’s and continues today.

And the respect and admiration seem to be mutual. Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins have all brought their trophies for display in Halifax after winning their respective championships.
posted by TinTitan at 8:55 AM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


For the longest time Boston's channel 38 was on the cable systems in Nova Scotia, so many there became Red Sox and even Bruins fans. Also in southern NS you can pick up Boston , NY, and even Detroit radio stations better than you can get some Canadian stations. Many Maritime families have ties to Boston from emmigration by a family member. In my family we have Red Sox fans in Yarmouth, NS.
posted by Gungho at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2014


For the longest time Boston's channel 38 was on the cable systems in Nova Scotia, so many there became Red Sox and even Bruins fans. Also in southern NS you can pick up Boston , NY, and even Detroit radio stations better than you can get some Canadian stations. Many Maritime families have ties to Boston from emmigration by a family member. In my family we have Red Sox fans in Yarmouth, NS. The NHL Boston Bruins often plan a pre-season exhibition game in Halifax, and New Brunswick is home to many NHL'ers, but the entrance to St. Stephen greets you as "the home of Boston Bruin Don Sweeney. He even brough the Stanley Cup there.
posted by Gungho at 1:38 PM on December 17, 2014


If we want an anecdote, when I visited my mom's uncle in Digby, NS 20 years ago, the guy was nuts for the Winnipeg Jets. But he was from the Hawerchuk side of the family.

More to the point, a couple of years ago (Feb 2013), I pulled a bunch of Facebook data for NHL fans, including the number of supporters in Canada for every active (and Bettman era defunct) team. I pulled counts of the top 15 teams nationwide (all the Canadian teams including the Nordiques and 72-96 Jets, as well as Pittsburgh, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Philly and Washington) for every province. I suspect these rankings shift from time to time based on bandwagon support; this was not too removed from Vancouver nearly winning the Cup in 2011, which is why I suspect they were so popular nationwide.

Here's the top 5 teams, with share of fans by province for Atlantic Canada:
                      NB     NS     PE     NL
Montreal Canadiens:  30.2%  21.8%  22.4%  22.6%
Toronto Maple Leafs: 16.2%  21.2%  23.0%  23.4%
Pittsburgh Penguins:  8.0%  10.5%   8.8%   7.2%
Vancouver Canucks:    8.3%   8.3%   9.7%   7.9%
Boston Bruins:        7.7%   9.0%   7.6%   7.5%
Pretty consistent from province to province; the two big outliers are the stronger support of the Habs in New Brunswick (consistent with the larger francophone population - if nothing else, the Habs have always had #1 priority on French sports TV, while the Leafs have tended to dominate English TV - particularly going back before there were other Canadian teams). There is a small Crosby bump in Nova Scotia. The remaining ~30% of support is highly distributed; no other team has 4% support in any province (with the top remaining teams being Ottawa, Edmonton, Detroit and Calgary in that order).

On to conjecture; I suspect NFL fans are mostly Patriots supporters (as well as the Cowboys/Steelers/Packers fans that exist everywhere), particularly given the team's strong performance over the last decade. I would guess baseball fandom to be split between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, and I've never met a Canadian who was an avid NBA fan.

The only likely league to put a team in the region is the CFL which almost did in 1984; the commissioner has recently described it as a "10 year project" (although he's stepping down next year). The big challenge is that Halifax - the largest metro by far - has essentially no stadium at all. Moncton, which is more central, has a stadium that is expandable to 20K (still really too small for a CFL team), but is a 3 hour drive from Halifax. The NHL will put teams into Quebec City and a second Toronto team (plus probably a dozen Sunbelt cities) before it even thinks about Halifax, although the major junior team's attendance has begun to rival Quebec's; it was 4th in attendance last season across the three CHL leagues.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:19 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't know about the maritimes, but I think Newfoundland roots for the Maple Leafs because they had an AHL (i.e. minor league) team in St. John's.

The "Baby Leafs" have been gone for more than a decade, and our current minor league team is the farm team for the Winnipeg Jets - I bet there are still WAY more Leafs Fans than Jets fans here.
posted by Paladin1138 at 7:29 PM on December 17, 2014


Thanks for all the great answers especially the family anecdata.
posted by Crashback at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2014


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