It should be no surprise that the number two man in the National Hockey League’s executive suite, the Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, is doing some due diligence and seeing if China is ready for the National Hockey League.
China is not a hockey friendly country with a bit more than a 1,000 playing the game on a regular basis at the country’s various skating rinks, but China will also play host to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The NHL is not the only hockey league eyeing China. The Kontinental Hockey League which is Russian based and financed expanded into Beijing this year and so far the jury is out on whether ice hockey can develop any following. The Beijing team started the season in Shanghai because of early season Beijing arena conflicts. The team drew about a thousand a game in 14 dates in Shanghai. But the NHL sees a market of 1.3 billion people and Daly is going to figure out if the NHL can play a pre-season then a regular season game in China and help grow the industry in the country.
“I think it’s fair to say we hope to be in a position to stage NHL games there, probably initially preseason games and then potentially on a longer-term basis, regular-season games,” Daly told Puck Daddy. “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.”
It should be noted that the National Football League could not pull off a pre-season game in 2007 or 2009 and is still struggling to stage an event in China. The NBA has been doing business in China for many years and China is part of the World Baseball Classic since 2006. There is money in China and the NHL wants to set up shop there.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.