A large contingent of NHL executives made the trip out to China this week to announce the league’s first initiatives in the country: preseason games between the LA Kings and the Vancouver Canucks in Shanghai (Sept 21) and Beijing (Sept 23), kicking off an eight-year slate of games, which could be upgraded to regular season match-ups as early as 2018. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might help the NHL in China, as well as the obstacles that lie ahead.
Why hockey will make it in China
1) The timing is right. With less than five years to go to the 2022 Olympics, the government is making a serious push to develop winter sports, and it’s no accident that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been featured in very lengthy segments on the national nightly news touring Olympic venues on more than one occasion this year. As I told the Globe and Mail after the announcement was made, there are actually a lot of indications that the government is moving away from soccer at the moment, and making winter sports its No. 1 priority within the sports industry.
Continue reading Why the NHL will make it in China – and why it won’t
Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin become first Chinese players drafted for nine years, but both face an uphill battle to play in the NBA.
A year ago, ice hockey player Song Andong was touted as China’s next big sporting star after being drafted by the NHL’s New York Islanders, then swiftly promoted as one of the faces of China’s 2022 Winter Olympic Games bid campaign. This spring, it is the turn of two Chinese basketball players, Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin, who were drafted by the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
Continue reading Long road to NBA for Chinese duo
China’s winter sports push continues with arrival of professional ice hockey franchise in the capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing this weekend and is set to sign around 30 new deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the most interesting of all from a sporting perspective will be fresh details about Beijing’s new franchise in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s answer to the NHL.
Continue reading Beijing set to unveil new KHL club
The National Hockey League seems to have resolved its lockout – finally – but it will likely find that few people in North America care, let alone further afield. It left me wondering, though, whether a similar lockout could happen in China, or anywhere in Asia.
On the surface, a lockout of any league seems such an asinine proposition: the bottom line is that if there are no games, then there’s no revenue, and that’s bad for everyone (though you could argue that for clubs who lose money, it stops the rot for a time).
And the whole thing causes so much ill will among fans and media, not to mention all those who depend on the sport for their livelihood, such as arena workers and local restaurants, that it sets the sport back years.
Continue reading Could China see a sports lockout?