HomeSportsHockeyHockey in the World: Which Countries Have a Fanatical Following?
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Hockey in the World: Which Countries Have a Fanatical Following?

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Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the world. It has a significant fan following. By revenue, the NHL is the fifth largest sports league, following the NFL, MLB, NBA, and English Premier League (soccer).

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There are many types of hockey—Field hockey, ice hockey, bandy, para ice hockey, roller hockey, and even street hockey, among others. 

Canada

Hockey in the World | Ice Hockey in Canada | KreedOn
Image Source: Reuters

Ice hockey originated in Canada and is the nation’s official (winter) sport, alongside lacrosse (the official summer sport). Together with the US, Canada invests heavily in the NHL and has produced some exceptional ice hockey talent and action over the years.

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If you were just to look over the most intense fights in the history of the NHL, you’d be surprised by the level of action and fanfare that these players and teams get. In fact, all of these legendary classics from Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins in 1978 to 2004’s Ottawa Senators vs. Philadelphia Flyers are always worth a rewatch!

Deeply rooted in Canadian culture, hockey, in general, is an iconic sport associated with a lot of enthusiasm and celebration throughout the Great White North.

Canada won four golds consecutively when Ice Hockey was introduced in the Winter Olympics. So far, the country has won nine golds and four silvers in a total of 25 editions. In women’s ice hockey (a comparatively newer sport in the Winter Olympics), Canada has bagged five golds in seven editions!

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In the Summer Olympics field hockey, however, Canada has only participated eight times and has always come 10th or lower.


Also Read | 7 Legendary Indian Hockey Players of All Times


The U.S.

The Stanley Cup that crowns the winners of the NHL has a TV viewership of 4.4 million on average in the last ten installments. If you take out the COVID years, it’s actually closer to 5 million. To put it in perspective, the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had close to 4.1 million TV viewers.

Propelling all this action are the US teams. In fact, the last 28 NHL champions are all US teams. Teams from colder climates closer to the north in the US have gained a substantial ice hockey following in particular.

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Though the teams with the most Stanley Cups remain to be Canadian (Montreal Canadiens with 24 and Toronto Maple Leafs with 13), the American NHL teams have been catching up fast since their induction into the league in 1924. Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins have all won 5 or more Cups.

Netherlands

Dutch hockey | Hockey in the World | Hockey in Netherlands | Ice Hockey in Canada | KreedOn
Image Source: The Hockey Paper

The Dutch are exceptionally good field hockey players. The Netherlands has a long history, and it’s particularly known for its success in international field hockey competitions.

The men’s and women’s teams both have achieved considerable success. Today, the #1 forward in field hockey is none other than Netherland’s Thierry Brinkman.

Apart from international success comparable to the likes of Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, and New Zealand, the Dutch also have a thriving club culture. The top domestic leagues are the Hoofdklasse for men and the Hoofdklasse for women. Both leagues feature amazing action and skill besides heated rivalries.


Also Read | Top 10 Greatest Hockey players of all time | Guess who tops the list


Russia

Russian Ice-Hockey team | Hockey in the World | Ice Hockey in Russia | KreedOn
Image Source: FISU

The Russians are another faction of skilled ice hockey players. In fact, their reputation follows North America closely. The sport is a long-standing tradition in the country, with a passionate fanbase and a highly competitive domestic league called the Kontinental Hockey League or KHL.

Russia has produced many elite players of international acclaim as well.

Formerly, the Soviet Union built a dominant hockey program that achieved remarkable success on the international stage.

Honorable Mentions

We’d be remiss to end our list with Russia! Here are some honorable mentions:

  • Sweden: With a rich history and immense popularity, the Swedish people love hockey. The national league called Swedish Hockey League, or SHL, draws a lot of attention. The country’s national team is also very successful in international tournaments.
  • Finland: Finland also has a very strong hockey culture. The Finnish Liiga offers some spectacular action and domestic talents that rival bigger names. They also have multiple World Championships and Olympic medals under their belt.
  • Czech Republic: Ice hockey is an important sport in the Czech Republic. The country’s top professional league, Czech Extraliga, displays a lot of domestic skills and has a large fan following.
  • India: From winning six gold medals in field hockey consecutively to having one of the most well-known athletes in the world, India is another country with a large hockey fanbase. Hockey is also the national sport of India, though the country hasn’t had much success on the international stage since the 1990s.

In Conclusion

Hockey’s popularity rivals that of many major sports in the world. It has an international audience, and almost all countries with a decent sports budget have a national team and some type of competitive league.

Whereas countries like Netherlands, Germany, and Australia dominate field hockey in the Olympics, colder countries like Canada, the US, and Russia set the standard for ice hockey gameplay.


Read More | Top 10 best field Hockey Sticks in 2022 – 23



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