Tomorrow, on Saturday, September 15, Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins open the NHL preseason games before the 2018-19 season in Shenzhen, China. This game is a part of the first NHL event scheduled this season, the China games.
The NHL China Games 2018 is the second edition, the previous year the Vancouver Canucks met the Los Angeles Kings in Shanghai and Beijing. In 2018 the games take place in Shenzhen on September 15 and in Beijing on September 19, both between the Bruins and the Flames.
Teams arrived in China yesterday, with the 14-hour flight from North America. Unfortunately, the first on-ice practice was cancelled for both teams because it took a lot of time for the bags with the hockey gear to get cleared through customs. So teams had their practice in the hotel fitness centres.
Later, the bags with equipment arrived and today Bruins and Flames had their practice sessions on the ice of the Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen.
Maybe, you noticed Lanny McDonald on the right here. The Flames legend and the chairman of the board of the Hockey Hall of Fame arrived in China as an NHL ambassador for the China Games.
Rosters of the Flames and the Bruins differs a little bit in China. Calgary Flames have most of their top players in Shenzhen, and Bruins is missing such players as Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci, because of injuries, recovering and visa issues. Well, it's a good opportunity for young Bruins players to fight for roster spots.
Not only two NHL teams are in China now, the main ice hockey trophy also arrived to this country a little bit earlier. The Stanley Cup visited Great Wall of China and Hong Kong with keeper Philip Pritchard and will be shown at the game on Saturday. It's the first ever trip to China of the Stanley Cup.
So unusual to read about NHL hockey in China, but it's an interesting place and an interesting event. Can't wait for the first preseason game, hockey is back.