MONTREAL - Weeks of thrilling World Cup action couldn't trump the NHL playoffs in most Canadians' hearts, but a new poll suggests soccer rules among foreign-language fans.
The Leger Marketing survey was taken two weeks into the World Cup and 11 days after the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup.
The Association for Canadian Studies commissioned the survey and made it available to QMI Agency.
The June 24-26 poll indicates 48% of Canadians "closely followed the NHL playoffs" compared with 31% who were "closely following the World Cup."
French Canadians were more hockey-mad than anyone else, with 60% glued to playoff hockey and just 23% wowed over the World Cup.
That last stat isn't surprising: the Montreal Canadiens were the only NHL team from north of the border to make the playoffs.
While the NHL was clearly king in Canada, a World Cup seen by some as the greatest in decades has drawn record TV ratings here.
The broadcasts from Brazil are averaging 1.5 million viewers, which is 60% higher than at the last World Cup in 2010.
Leger Marketing says 39% of Canadian men closely followed the gathering of soccer powers in Brazil. The following was even higher (42%) among Canadians aged 25 to 34.
The biggest soccer fanatics were Canadians whose mother tongue is neither English nor French.
Fifty-three per cent said they were closely following the World Cup.
"There are a lot more flags of European and non-European countries flying in (Canadian cities) than we see at G20 meetings," said Jack Jedwab, executive vice-president of the Association for Canadian Studies.
Several other signs point to soccer's rise in Canada.
The national women's team won bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and is ranked 7th in the world.
Canada will host the Women's World Cup next year, as well as the world U-20 tournament next month.
Soccer Canada is bidding for the 2026 men's World Cup against long odds.
The Canadian national team hasn't played in a World Cup since 1986 and is ranked 110th in the world.