With the NHL dropping the puck on the preseason Saturday in China, commissioner Gary Bettman believes regular-season games there are the next logical step.
Gary Bettman said he envisions the NHL eventually playing regular season games in China, that that would be the next step. They are in discussions about coming back next year to play preseason games. There are a number of teams interested in coming, he said.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) September 15, 2018
There have been no reports that the Chicago Blackhawks are among the teams interested in playing in China.
Regular-season games outside North America have happened in the past, though never in China. This season, the NHL Global Series features an Edmonton Oilers-New Jersey Devils game in October in Sweden, and two games between the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers in November in Finland.
The Hawks are 2-2 in overseas games against NHL teams. Chicago split its first two-game series against the Montreal Canadiens in September 1992 in London. The Hawks opened their 2009-10 season with a two-game split against the Panthers.
Chicago went 1-2 in the NHL’s Super Series against Soviet League teams, with its lone win against Dinamo Riga in 1989.
The NHL have continually used the Hawks has a premier team this decade to help sell big events, most notably with outdoor games. Chicago is slated to compete in its league-high sixth outdoor game in the 2019 Winter Classic against Boston at Notre Dame Stadium.
The NHL’s history of pushing the Hawks and the marketable valuable of being an Original Six franchise makes them a prime candidate to be playing games in China.