NHL makes China games official, featuring Canucks vs. Kings

The NHL is officially bringing games to China next season, as Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will faceoff in preseason games on Sept. 21 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and on Sept. 23 at Huaxi LIVE Wukesong’s Le Sports Center in Beijing, at a Wednesday press conference at the Beijing venue.

“The 2017 NHL China Games represent the formal launch of what we hope will be a long and successful collaboration between our League, our teams and our partners in accelerating the development of hockey in China,” said Bettman.

“We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that effort. While we fully understand the importance the government has placed on sports teams representing China in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, our partnership will extend well beyond the couple of week of the 2022 Olympic Games.”

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Bettman said that the Canucks were a great fit for the games, as their metropolitan area as 440,000 residents of Chinese descent. He said the Kings have held hockey clinics in China.

“We will share our 100 years of expertise with the fans and athletes in China,” said Bettman.

From the NHL:

Bloomage International Group is a Chinese based, privately owned corporation that is devoted to expanding sports and promoting a healthy lifestyle across the country.

“Bloomage created Huaxi Live as a multi-purpose real estate brand to promote an immersive and healthy lifestyle,” Bloomage’s Chairwoman, Madam Zhao Yan said. “Being a site that hosted games in the 2008 Olympics we are honored to once again host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games as a venue for ice hockey. Bloomage is pleased to join the NHL in bringing the top level ice hockey talent to Huaxi Live Wukesong and presenting the best of hockey to Chinese fans.”

China’s Head of State Xi Jinping visited Huaxi LIVE Wukesong, Bloomage’s flagship sports and entertainment facility, in late February on an inspection tour for the preparation of the hockey facilities for the 2022 Winter Olympics. China is seriously committed to promoting ice hockey and making it into a sport that the Chinese people will love and enjoy.

With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is committed to hockey and expects to expand its participation in all winter sports to 300 million people by 2022. The NHL looks to work side by side with sports bureaus across China in developing grassroots hockey programs, supporting local youth hockey and hockey development at all levels. Within the multi-year partnership, Bloomage International also will play a vital role in helping to promote hockey culture across various regions of the country, supporting the League and its youth hockey initiatives. The League will look to develop programs to provide schools with training and instructional content to implement these impactful hockey programs that promote physical education, sportsmanship, teamwork and fitness through participation in hockey.

This should be fun. Although one wonders what, if anything, it means for the NHL and the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.