The relationship between ESPN and hockey fans is rocky at best. The poll pictured above from ESPN.com is not going to make it any better. For whatever reason, ESPN decided to put its finger to the wind and see if their readers still considered the league to be one of the four major pro sports because SportsCenter sure doesn't. The NHL has enjoyed this status since before I was even born, but now it's under threat because… ESPN is running out of interesting polls that don't involve Tim Tebow?
Anyways, the NHL easily beat out both MLS and NASCAR for the coveted "SportsNation poll winner" status by a healthy margin. That shouldn't be taken as a dig at either of those sports though. NASCAR has a huge following that's vastly underrated by the mainstream world (especially on TV) and MLS is still growing steadily (especially in stadiums). It doesn't always have to be a competition or debate between sports leagues and their fans, we can have varying levels of appreciation for different sports. Crazy, I know.
Apparently the only place where the NHL isn't still considered a major pro league is Bristol, Connecticut. That, or Barry Melrose voted in this poll 60,000 times before he was let out of his dungeon for his next SportsCenter appearance.
H/T Puck Drunk Love