Football fans even love their teams when they lose. Hockey, sadly, doesn't have that kind of support South OR North of the border. The fact it's an expensive sport just to watch probably doesn't help either, but that's beside the point.
I'd liken hockey more to the US's national passtime of baseball... The country loves it overall, but a lot don't avidly support it.
Even when the Browns were leaving Cleveland, I remember seeing their stadiums at least near capacity, if not sold out. Why they left, I do not know. And the new Browns pack in the seats again.
Crappy Hockey teams in Canada often go about as well as Crappy teams in the U.S. They don't sell out the arenas like they need to, to compete with the rest of the league. Baseball is the same way here.
I'm going to argue with you, mostly because I like to argue. But also because in some respects I disagree.
Living in Winnipeg I don't think your statements apply. Winnipeg is a fairly unique situation. Only about 700.000 people to draw from. We had a team you may recall, the Winnipeg Jets. I'm not sure how much of their history you recall, beyond their moving to Phoenix to become the Coyotes (ptui).
During their NHL stead here they averaged about 12,000 fans a game, year in, year out. After it was announced they were leaving the attendance jumped. All the way to an average of around 13,500.
A pittance you say? True, notably because the capacity of the arena was around 15,300. The problem is you and most people have never been in that arena. It was and is horrible. The additional nearly 2000 seats were horrible, with awful sight lines, uncomfortable seating and at times were downright dangerous. Basically, it was easier to watch the game in a bar or at home and not just because of cost.
During that time the Jets had highs and lows. One of those lows was a winless streak that still might still be on the NHL record books. 33 games straight without a win. Attendance during that streak (I believe they might have won all of 12 games that year) was 11,500. Nothing changed. A subsequent year we had a record that had the Jets finish third in the league, behind only the Oilers and Flames (all three of whom were in the same division, thereby eliminating one of the leagues top three teams in the first round). Attendance that year: 11,500.
The point is yes, football has fanaticism, no doubt. But don't doubt the same occurs here in Canada. You can't get tickets in Toronto. Period. You never used to be able to get tickets in Montreal until they left the Forum. Edmonton and Calgary are both in trouble to some degree, for largely the same reasons the Jets left Winnipeg, but the attendance kicks the snot out of anything in the southeastern US. Vancouver, IMO is a fickle city and doesn't support anything but winners, but again, just my opinion.
Poor attendance in Canada is about 10,000 butts in the seats, not 10,000 tickets raffled off, given away or sold at discount coupled with 4000 fans attending the game. Nothing galls me more than watching a regular season or playoff game from Carolina, Anaheim, Los Angeles or one of the other non-supportive cities. The only reason they have teams is a broad base of population to pick from and an owner with unbearably deep pockets that can handle financial losses as a tax writeoff applied to other profits. Bettman is an ass. He doesn't want a team here in Winnipeg and for that I hate him. He doesn't want it here because we "don't have sufficient corporate support, aren't a team Americans want to watch and it isn't a city that fans can identify with". Well pardon me, but what has that got to do with real fans?
So it's better to have a team in Carolina (poor Hartford) or Tampa Bay where no one shows up, win or lose than a place where fans show up win or lose? Twisted logic at it's finest. Bettman cares not for the game, he thinks he's the second coming of David Stern. The great difference is that Stern understands what and where his audience is.
I think Canadians support it, win or lose. Another problem is and remains a disparity in the dollar. That is why smaller market teams here are having difficulty, paying salaries in US dollars. Granted, it is only a 25% disadvantage now, but when margins are tight
As far as weather goes, you don't have a clue for the most part what we'll drive through to get to a game. During the better part of the season in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Quebec City and Montreal it is so cold that if your car isn't plugged in with an engine block heater, your car may not well start after the game. It's that cold. No, the fans don't sit outside in inclement weather, they just risk life and limb before and after the game. The Heritage classic could have been held anywhere in Canada and people would show up in the same numbers. Hockey is played indoors because the ice melts otherwise in the US or it's so damn cold in Canada that it would become a life risking exercise.
The essence is I beg to differ.