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It looks like the NHL will be going to Asia after all. But while NHL participation in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea is still uncertain, the NHL announced Wednesday that China will be hosting two NHL preseason games in September of 2017.

At the invitation of Bloomage International, the Los Angeles Kings will host the Vancouver Canucks on September 21 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The Canucks will host the Kings on September 23 at Huaxi LIVE Wukesong’s Le Sports Center in Beijing.

This is not the first time the NHL has played games overseas. The NHL has done so intermittently as early as 1938. Most recently, in 2011, the NHL sent four teams (New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, and LA Kings) to the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, and Germany to have exhibitions with some European clubs before opening the season with two games each. 2011 marked the final and fifth year in a row in which NHL clubs played exhibition and/or regular season matchups overseas – that is, until the Fall of 2017.

On March 24, the NHL also announced that the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators will play two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden on November 10 and 11.

The games are part of the NHL’s commitment to grow the game in China. But the NHL isn’t the first league to establish itself in China. The 2016-17 season marked the inaugural season for HC Kunlan Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League. Red Star’s home arena is Le Sports Center in Beijing, where the Canucks will host the Kings on September 23. Several former NHL players are on the roster which is coached by former Stanley Cup Champion coach with the Rangers, Mike Keenan. Rudi Ying, an 18-year old centerman for the Red Star, is the first Chinese-born player sign in the KHL.

Andong Song was the first Chinese-born player to be drafted to the NHL. Song was selected 172nd overall in the sixth round in 2015 by the New York Islanders. He is currently with the Madison Capitols of the USHL, but is committed to Cornell University starting in 2018-19.

Though the trip includes the first NHL preseason games ever to be played in China, this is not the first trip to China for the Kings or the Canucks. Along with other NHL teams, LA and Vancouver have held youth hockey camps in China in recent years.

“The 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging 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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible.”

“Partnership with the NHL will not only give O.R.G. the opportunity to introduce the world’s best hockey league to more young players in China, but also a platform for sports and culture exchanges between the two countries, which will in turn contribute to the Chinese ice hockey talent pool,” O.R.G. Packaging Chairman Zhou Yunjie said.

“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.”

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

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” said Kings President, Business Operations and Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

“On behalf of the entire Vancouver Canucks organization we are truly excited to play exhibition games in China and represent the National Hockey League on an international stage,” said Trevor Linden, Canucks President of Hockey Operations. “This is a unique opportunity to play games in a growing market and we look forward to what will undoubtedly be a fantastic experience.”

The two teams participating in the 2017 NHL China Games will be offering travel packages. Those details, as well as broadcasting details, will be announced at a later time.

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Evan is the Hockey Editor for He provides coverage of the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers, as well as some league-wide content.

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