The NHL North American ice hockey league is set to return to staging overseas games by hosting events in Sweden and China next season, according to TSN.
The Canadian sports broadcaster said that pending approval from the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche (pictured) will likely play two regular-season games in Sweden in November. TSN added that the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings are likely to play an exhibition game in China during the autumn.
If the games go ahead, they will mark the NHL’s first events in Europe since 2011 and the league’s first trip to Asia since 2000. The NHL staged its ‘Premiere’ series in markets across Europe from 2007 to 2011, while the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins played a two-game series in Saitama City, Japan in 2000.
Multiple reports have linked the NHL with staging games in China in recent weeks and deputy commissioner Bill Daly undertook a fact-finding mission to the country last month. Daly met with Chinese officials ahead of the 2022 Beijing winter Olympic Games.
“In my three days there, part of the process was working on moving the (pre-season) game project along,” Daly told Canadian newspaper the National Post last week. “It seems that the NBA, having brought games over there, has been a game changer over there as far as basketball is concerned. Now everybody is excited about the prospect of NHL teams coming over. So, we’re obviously trying to make that happen as soon as possible. We’re still holding out hope it can happen (this year), but if that doesn’t happen, I expect it’ll happen the following year.”
Daly added: “I was surprised was the level of interest and curiosity about the game. A lot of that has been spurred by the announcement of the Beijing winter Olympics. I met with a couple of government officials in different capacities and a lot of people are focused on building some grassroots infrastructure and building a national team that can be competitive at the Olympics, even if they don’t win a game. There’s a desire to do that.”