The NHL announced today the schedule for two games to be played in Shenzhen and Beijing, China between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames. The two teams will take part in a pair of preseason matchups September 15th and 19th.
Last preseason the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played two games in China, as part of the NHL’s attempt to bring the game to non-traditional hockey markets around the world. The games were a huge success, and gave players a chance to experience a different culture. For the Bruins, this is just the latest event in a years-long relationship with Chinese company ORG Packaging and its chairman Zhou Yunjie. Players including David Pastrnak have made several visits to China over the past few seasons to host clinics and speak with youth hockey teams.
Though the NHL avoided the most recent Olympics, one has to wonder whether they will consider returning for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. After using these preseason matches to spark the ever-growing interest in hockey overseas, the Olympics would be a perfect place to show China the best-on-best once again. Still, those decisions will likely come down to the next collective bargaining agreement, which still needs to be negotiated in the coming years.