NHL's Vancouver Canucks Facing LA Kings in China This Fall

By Connor Frankhouser, March 31, 2017

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It appears last year’s mumblings and rumors of the National Hockey League (NHL) bringing a game to China have come to fruition.

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A joint press release issued yesterday confirms the speculation and announces the NHL’s first foray into the Middle Kingdom at the beginning of what will be the league’s 100th year of operation.

The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks are the two teams confirmed to be playing the preseason pair of games this September in Shanghai and Beijing. The NHL has a history of touring and playing games overseas in European nations, even Japan.

China, with its nascent hankering for winter sports being stoked by the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, is a logical next step for the NHL. Both franchises selected to come to China, the Vancouver Canucks and two-time Stanley Cup winning L.A. Kings are in west coast North American cities with a large Chinese diaspora.

The puck will drop in Shanghai on September 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, a venue that has regularly hosted NBA preseason games and American collegiate sporting events in the past.

The faceoff in Beijing will be on September 23 at LeSports Center, a venue owned by Bloomage Investment Group, the firm that is partnering with the NHL to bring the preseason games to China.

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Echoing their geographical locations in North America, Los Angeles will be the home team in Shanghai and Vancouver will be deemed the home squad in Beijing.

It appears that the NHL is seriously committing itself to investing in the future of hockey in China. League Commissioner Gary Bettman declared the games will be a starting point for what the league hopes is “…a long and successful collaboration.”

The NHL also states in the press release that the league is looking to develop hockey in China and “…promote physical education, sportsmanship, teamwork and fitness through participation in hockey.”

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Sportsmanship, Canadian-Style

China represented in the 2022 Winter Olympics in hockey would be a real miracle on ice. The NHL replicating the huge merchandising and sales success that the NBA enjoys in China by aping its dual exhibiton game schedule in Shanghai and Beijing is a much more realistic outcome.

[Images via Mercedes-Benz Arena, Georgetown Sports Analysis]


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