NHL aims to establish hockey culture in China

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Young kids try their hands at ice hockey in Beijing. [Photo/Xinhua]

The National Hockey League (NHL) is working to establish a hockey culture in China, the world's most populated country, by bringing professional hockey players and matches to Chinese audiences, according to a NHL report on Sunday.

Last week, the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames participated in the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games in Shenzhen, they will then travel to Beijing for another match before returning to North America.

"The way I view it is we're three years into a strategy to build a hockey infrastructure in China," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

A delegation of NHL employees and NHL alumni traveled to China in 2015 to begin working with local schools and the government to introduce hockey.

"For us to make hockey relevant in China it's more of a two-pronged approach," Daly said. "It's a lot different from European markets, where hockey is developed. I think we have to be committed to grassroots youth hockey. We have to work with other parties who are willing to work on that."

Daly said the NHL wanted to bring the world's greatest players, the world's greatest teams to China so the Chinese audiences can see hockey at its highest level. He said it is important to expose players and teams in person.

The NHL's China strategy is to both target business opportunities that will grow the League's brand globally and to help the game grow in China as part of the winter sports development in advance of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, according to the report.

The League has contractually agreed to host preseason games in China in six of the next eight years. It has also agreed to develop learn-to-play programs and to provide the necessary equipment, including sticks and balls for ball hockey programs.

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