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Report: NHL wants to play an exhibition game in China next season

Over the past year, several reports have suggested that the NHL wants to hold more preseason games abroad in the near future. One of those reports indicated the league would hold games in Mexico, but a new report from Darren Dreger indicates the NHL wants to hold preseason games in China as early as next year.

Details are limited, but Dreger added that two teams – the LA Kings and Vancouver Canucks – could compete in an exhibition in either Shanghai or Beijing.

Though the Kings and the Canucks were mentioned specifically as potential participants, Dreger added that nothing is finalized and that several teams have expressed interest in playing. The proposal of gaining notoriety abroad is probably a pretty attractive offer for any NHL team considering the possibility of increased merchandise sales. The travel might be demanding, but the prospect of increased brand awareness and entering early into a new market is exciting.

The NHL playing preseason/exhibition games abroad isn’t a new concept. The league routinely held games abroad, but they’ve been mostly quiet on that front since 2011. A thorough list of all of the league’s international games can be found here and it shows that the NHL has skated in a variety of countries and locations over the years.

The location, China, is noteworthy too. The sport hasn’t taken off in China as many had hoped even after the introduction of HC Kunlun Red Star, a Chinese team in the KHL. The team is in its first year, but attendance hasn’t been pretty. Speculation has swirled that the KHL may contract several teams in the near future due to financial issues and Red Star might be one of the casualties.

China is loaded with potential for the NHL and it’s clear the league is ready to start pushing into that market.

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Yardbarker: NHL