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Hockey (Night?) In China

Nothing better to do at 4:30 am?  Tune in for some Vancouver Canucks hockey, live from Beijing!  The Los Angeles Kings face the ‘Nucks in the first game of an NHL awareness project hoping to promote the game in China, who has an active program encouraging the uptake of winter sports.

1.3 billion people.  That is a large market to try to tap into, and the NHL likely didn’t do itself a great service by withdrawing from the upcoming games in South Korea.  But, they are (in my opinion) basically committing to 2020, when China will be the host.

The Chinese are already attempting to grow their hockey program, called “Red Star “.  In games against more established Red Star gets pounded into the ground, but that might be set to change, as they are offering incentives to North American Chinese players who come over to play on their team and in their program.  Notably, their women’s program has already tried to make inroads by adding a team which will play in North America.  Not sure about the status of all that…

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All in all, I think growing the game is always a good thing and this is no different, even if it is a communist country.  The new Soviet?  NAH…

Anyway, this game will feature some top-line players, as the Canucks already played the other half of their split-squad against the Flames earlier in the night.  I know Doughty is playing for the Kings as is Muzzin, but it’s early yet.  Oh, there’s Kopitar!

Anyway, it’s late, so I won’t get into this too much save to say it feels strange being up this early watching non-Olympic hockey.

Notes:

  • In the earlier game, we saw some great play from Brock Boeser, who I think is an amazing prospect.  He has great instincts for a young defenceman, and can back it up with the skills to finish.  His goal tonight, while likely different against real NHL defencemen, was a thing of beauty, exhibiting great patience, a nose for open-ice, and the poised finish you see from the greats.

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  • But the highlight of the night was a save by Calgary goalie, Jon Gillies.

  • The Ottawa Senators have lost center Colin White for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist.  White looked like he was due to crack the opening night roster.
  • Jonathan Drouin made his long-awaited debut with the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, grabbing an assist.  He looked right at home.
  • Blues forward Alex Steen will miss the rest of training camp with a hand injury.  Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, also of the Blues, will have his leg injury re-evaluated in three weeks.  Finally, forward Zach Sanford will be out a good 4-6 months rehabbing a dislocated/separated shoulder.
  • Erik Cole signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trochek will miss some time with an injury.
 

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