The NHL is staging more exhibition games in China this fall Michael Crabtree Jersey , hoping to make further inroads in establishing hockey as a sport in the world’s most populous nation.
The Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames will face off Sept. 15 in Shenzhen in southeast China and then again Sept. 19 in Beijing in the second incarnation of the China Games.
The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing last September, the NHL’s first foray there.
China represents an as-yet untapped resource for the NHL, especially ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has so far been noncommittal about the NHL going to the 2022 Games after skipping South Korea this year, but the work is already underway in China, where the NBA has had a presence for decades.
”I think there is an enthusiasm to grow the sport, first at the grassroots level, but I think bringing games there and bringing NHL teams there and NHL players helps kind of support the story from the top down, as well,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday.
”It’s really a two-pronged approach where you’re trying to build hockey infrastructure in a society that’s never really had any and then in order to drive that, you’re bringing hockey at its highest level so that people can appreciate what the sport can look like.”
Growing youth hockey and bringing NHL games to China is the plan, but from the league’s perspective, it’s not a three-pronged approach tied to Olympic participation.
”I was there in the spring and we had lots of discussions with officials at all levels to talk about the development of hockey and how we can work together Aaron Jones Jersey , and those are things that we’re working on,” Bettman said last month.
”Not once did we get asked about the Olympics in 2022. I’m not sure if we’re helping develop the game particularly at the grassroots level and giving them our software, if you will, whether or not we play for two weeks makes a difference.”
The league is working with local authorities to develop hockey programs as the government of the country with a population of 1.3 billion aims to have 300 million participants in winter sports by 2022. The Bruins made visits each of the past two summers to participate in hockey camps.
”Over the past three years we have collaborated with (businessman Zhou Yunjie) on growing the game both within the Chinese community in Boston and with youth hockey players in China,” Bruins president Cam Neely said.
”We look forward to continuing these efforts by bringing Bruins hockey to China with these two preseason games.”
Shenzhen’s location close to Hong Kong, its burgeoning population and its world-class facility that’s home to the two China-based Canadian Women’s Hockey League teams made it a natural fit along with Beijing for NHL preseason action. More cities are in the running in the future, which could at some point include regular-season games.
”Part of it is exposing the sport in different major cities throughout the country,” Daly said.
”These games over the next number of years are going to hit different locations, and we’ll see what’s worked well and what can be improved and it’s very much kind of a learning process for us.”
Hockey in China is one big learning process, and the NHL is in the early stages of its assistance.
China is ramping up its hockey programs with an eye toward the 2022 Olympics, but that doesn’t mean the NHL is a sure thing to go. Daly said the league sees hockey in China and the NHL at the Beijing Olympics as mutually exclusive.
”Our philosophy is one that isn’t necessarily connected to the other,” Daly said. ”I don’t think the fact that we want to grow our presence in China and grow hockey’s presence in China necessarily means we have to be in the Olympics. But it doesn’t necessarily preclude us from being there if ultimately we want to be.”
Bettman noted that Germany reached the gold medal game at the non-NHL Olympics in February Adolphus Washington Jersey , and wondered if staying out would actually be beneficial.
”Maybe the Chinese would have more success in 2022 in being competitive if we’re not there,” Bettman said. ”A lot of variables to be considered.”
One of those variables that could help the NHL return to the Olympics for the sixth time would be the Chinese government pushing for it. Sochi was an example of that.
”I think it could happen, but even if that was something that they weighed in on, I’m not sure at the end of the day that would be a determining factor for us,” Daly said.
”I think there are a whole host of factors. It’s not just about kind of the conditions under which we go. It’s all the other things that are associated with Olympic participation, including what’s happening back here in North America.”
Sports Deputy Editor for Newsgathering Howie Rumberg in New York contributed.
Brian Anderson stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning with the game tied, one out and the bases loaded.
The Marlins’ rookie took the situation in stride like a veteran.
Anderson hit a game-ending sacrifice fly to lift the Miami Marlins over the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Wednesday night.
”In a situation like that, the pressure’s not on you, it’s on the pitcher,” Anderson said. ”I tried to stay within myself and get something in the strike zone, something I could elevate.”
J.T. Realmuto had two hits and scored twice for the Marlins, who have won three straight for the first time since winning four in a row April 28-May 1.
Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run and Buster Posey had three hits for the Giants Jaquiski Tartt Jersey , who entered the series winning eight of 10 but have dropped the first three games against last-place Miami and eight of the last nine in the series.
”Yyou can’t take any team lightly,” McCutchen said. ”This is the big leagues and regardless of their record or how many fans are in the stands, you’ve got to be ready to go.”
Reyes Moronta (2-1) allowed the first two hitters to reach in the bottom of the ninth, prompting manager Bruce Bochy to call on Hunter Strickland. Pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck hit a hard grounder down the first-base line, but Posey was able to dive to keep the ball in front of him, preventing the Marlins from scoring.
However, Strickland got himself into a 3-1 count against Anderson with one out. Anderson connected on a flyball to center field caught by Gorkys Hernandez, whose throw home was too late to catch Miguel Rojas.
”He didn’t crush it, but he got it deep enough,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
It was the Marlins’ third walk-off win of the season.
San Francisco’s Evan Longoria broke a 3-all tie with a hit in the seventh off Tayron Guerrero. It was Longoria’s team-leading 11th go-ahead RBI of the season.
The Marlins responded with a two-out RBI double in the eighth by Justin Bour off Sam Dyson, tying the game at 4.
It was the third time in the game the Marlins trailed but bounced back to draw even.
”We’re doing what we’re hoping, we’re getting the lead Joshua Garnett Jersey ,” Bochy said. ”We’re just having a hard time holding it.”
Drew Steckenrider (3-1) pitched a scoreless top of the ninth.
Andrew Suarez allowed five hits and two runs in five innings for the Giants, pitching in his hometown in front of a number of friends and family members. He struck out three and walked two.
”I just didn’t really have a feel for a lot of pitches later in the game,” Suarez said. ”I just think with all of the humidity and sweating so much, the ball was a little slick. But you have to compete and keep throwing strikes.”
Miami’s Caleb Smith pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs.
He also had two hits at the plate.
”That was pretty fun,” Smith said. ”I’ve been working on it.”
McCutchen’s two-run blast in the first was his seventh of the season.
The Marlins tied the game at 2 on base hits by Cameron Maybin and Lewis Brinson in the fourth.
The teams traded runs in the sixth. Austin Jackson gave the Giants a 3-2 lead before Bour tied it with a base hit.
The retractable roof was open for the 15th time this season, the most in a year since Marlins Park opened in 2012.
Giants: 1B Brandon Belt (appendix) is likely to have a couple rehab starts with the goal of joining the team on the next homestand beginning June 18 instead of playing this weekend in Los Angeles. … RHP Johnny Cueto (left ankle) will have another bullpen session Friday. … RHP Jeff Samardzija (right shoulder) will have a rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday with a pitch limit of 60-65 pitches.
Giants: RHP Dereck Rodriguez (1-1, 5.25 ERA) will start Thursday’s series finale. Rodriguez, the son of former Marlins catcher and Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez, spent a lot of time around the Marlins when his father helped lead them to a World Series title in 2003.
Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (2-2, 4.08) is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in five career starts against the Giants.
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