BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The NHL announced here on Thursday that the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two preseason games in China in September as part of the 2017 NHL China Games, the first-ever preseason games to be held in the country.
The first game will be played on September 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, and the second on September 23 at the Huaxi LIVE Wukesong Le Sports Center in Beijing, where NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made the historic announcement.
"This is an historic moment for the National Hockey League," NHL Commissioner Bettman said. "I am honored to announce the 2017 NHL China Games, presented by O.R.G. Packaging."
"We look forward to our first games in China and to a variety of initiatives that will inspire generations of Chinese players and fans to enjoy our sport. We recognize the importance of helping China build a strong national hockey program and are committed to supporting that priority in every way possible," he added.
"Bringing NHL players to China for two games in September will give both current and potential new fans in Shanghai and Beijing a chance to watch some of the best hockey players in the world," said Mathieu Schneider, NHL Players' Association Special Assistant to the Executive Director.
The matchups in September will be the first NHL preseason games conducted in China, but not the first trip for either the Canucks or Kings, who have each held youth hockey camps in China in recent years. In addition, several NHL clubs have conducted hockey camps for Chinese youth in recent years both in China and North America.
China is aiming to expand its participation in all winter sports to 300 million people before Beijing 2022. The NHL looks to work side by side with sports bureaus across China in developing grassroots hockey programs, supporting local youth hockey and hockey development at all levels.