The NHL is staging two exhibition matches in China this week to help grow ice hockey in the country. The next logical step is to hold regular-season games in the Far East, said commissioner Gary Bettman.
Bettman indicated the games would likely take place at the start of the season for logistical reasons. Regular-season games have been held in Europe before, but not in China.
“It’s obviously easier to deal with the travel issues by scheduling in the preseason and giving the participating teams a little bit of a head start, which is what we’ve been able to do,” Bettman said. “I think that at some point we will get to the stage where we will be considering regular-season games.”
NHL players did not participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Bettman indicated the same will happen at Beijing 2022.
But he added: “The fact is, 2022 is still a long ways off and we haven’t made any decisions. So if it sounds like I’ve slammed the door, that wasn’t what I was intending to do.”