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Washington Capitals looking to play regular-season game in Russia

The National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals are looking to leverage the pulling power of superstar Alex Ovechkin by staging a regular-season game in Russia.

Any decision will rest in the hands of the NHL, which arranges the popular Global Series, which is going to Finland and the Czech Republic in 2020.

“We’ve talked about different things overseas, and we’ve talked about some in Russia or some in Sweden,” Capitals president Dick Patrick told the Washington Post. “We’re not sure; it’s a league decision. They’ve talked about China, too, which would be like an exhibition game. I personally wasn’t too intrigued with that. I think it is just too hard on players during training camp. It could happen next year or the year after. If we are going to do it, it would probably be one of those years.”

The Capitals last played abroad in 1989, when they held a training camp in Sweden before playing four preseason games in the former Soviet Union. The NHL has not held a regular-season game in Russia before.

Last month, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed that Russia was under consideration as a possible future venue for NHL Global Series games. More than 40 Russians play in the NHL and the league recently signed a multiyear deal with Russian internet search provider Yandex to broadcast all NHL games through its streaming service in the country.

“I think it’s been speculated that, and would be rightly speculated, that we would be willing to explore putting a game in Russia, with some of our Russian stars,” Daly said. “There’s a long way between here and there. So I’m not announcing Russian games, but certainly that’s a market that we think would be interesting if we had the support of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the [Kontinental Hockey League] in doing it. That’s something we’d consider.”

Further reading:

Capitals’ inaugural Stanley Cup triumph leads to commercial uplift ‘across board’

NHL leverages Ovechkin’s pulling power to expand footprint in China

NHL shakes up weekend schedule to increase European fanbase and revenues