NHL Wraps Play In China With 13,000 In Attendance For Kings-Canucks
The Kings on Saturday defeated the Canucks 4-3 in a shootout at Wukesong Arena in Beijing to sweep the NHL's first games in China, capping a push by the league to "popularize the sport" in the country ahead of it hosting of the '22 Winter Games. Organizers put attendance at "almost 13,000, including many drawn from the Chinese capital's expatriate population" (AP, 9/23).
For Thursday's game in Shanghai, there were "several yawning sections of empty seats." Hockey HOFer Phil Esposito, who has "become a kind of unofficial ambassador for the game in China," said, "Personally, I think the NHL blew it. You have got to promote. This game tonight -- I looked in the papers. There wasn't a goddamn word about it. Not one word." Canucks President Trevor Linden said, "It's not ideal" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/22).