According to a report from Darren Dreger on NBC Sports Network on Wednesday evening, the NHL is interested in playing exhibition games in China next season. The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings are two of the teams being considered.
@NHLonNBCSports pregame to Pens/Isles. Just mentioned ongoing discussions with Van/LA for exhib game in China next season. Not finalized.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 1, 2016
While nothing has been finalized, it appears the NHL is in discussions with both teams about playing in either Shanghai or Beijing.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) December 1, 2016
With their population and growing economy, you can understand why the NHL would want to make inroads in China. Beijing would seemingly make the most sense, given that they are set to host the Winter Olympics in 2022.
It also makes sense that teams from the West Coast would be involved in the game, given travel concerns before a grueling 82-game NHL season.
The Canucks were involved in the very first NHL games played in Asia, when they played the Anaheim Ducks in a pair of regular season games in Tokyo in 1997, months before the Nagano 1998 Olympics.
The Canucks last began the preseason overseas in 2000, when they held their training camp and played exhibition games in Stockholm, Sweden.