Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog have reported that North America’s National Hockey League is targeting ways to tap into the Chinese market as the league seeks to make a concerted push to raise its profile in Asia.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly will visit China later this month to study the country’s viability for hosting games. Daly told Yahoo that he would like to see if there is any viability for scheduling pre-season games as early as next year before any longer term talk of taking regular-season games to the world’s most populous country.
“I think it’s fair to say we hope to be in a position to stage NHL games there, probably initially pre-season games and then potentially on a longer-term basis, regular-season games,” Daly is quoted by Yahoo.
“We’re working on that possibility potentially as early as next year and with this visit, we’ll know a lot more about whether we can pull that off or not.”
Daly further said that the decision to award the 2022 Winter Olympics to China’s capital Beijing gives the NHL an opportunity to help raise ice hockey’s profile in the country.
“I think (the winter Olympics) has created an emphasis on building winter sport in China and obviously we’re a primary winter sport,” Daly said. “I think there’s interest and appetite within kind of the governmental circles to make efforts at building hockey infrastructure and we want to be helpful, as the premier professional hockey league in the world, we want to be helpful in building that infrastructure.”
Currently, China has a total of 1,101 players and 360 combined indoor and outdoor rinks but the league expects increases in both numbers before Beijing hosts the 2022 Olympics.
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