By Dan KennedyIn the summer of 2013, the NHL was about to launch a new era of growth for the league and its owners.
The team would play its first game in China, and the franchise would be renamed the Vancouver Canucks.
The NHL was to become a global brand, as well as a brand that would help its owners become global.
In the past decade, the league has expanded its footprint in China and, in a move that had nothing to do with the Chinese government, the US government also granted the NHL exclusive rights to play in China.
The Canucks would have to travel to Beijing and then to Shanghai, where they would play their first game.
The team was going to be a local success story.
A group of Canucks fans had been attending games in China for years, and now, they would be getting their first taste of hockey in the country they had spent so much time rooting for.
For fans, the Chinese franchise was going be an exciting new opportunity to watch an NHL team and have it be a part of the community that had embraced it over the past three decades.
The fans were excited, however, that they would have the opportunity to see the team play first-hand.
They had been promised a new stadium, a new arena, and a new rink, and it all seemed like a dream for Vancouver fans who had been waiting a decade to see a team play in the city they had so passionately followed since the franchise was founded in 1984.
And then it happened.
On August 23, the Canucks announced the news that they had signed a deal with China National Football League.
The Chinese government had already agreed to grant the NHL the exclusive rights in the nation to play there, and that meant the team was officially off to China.
On the day of the announcement, Vancouver Canucks owner Jeff Vandermeer released a statement on behalf of the team, which read in part:”We have been privileged to have the privilege of working with a number of clubs and organizations in the past two years to secure the right to play a game in Shanghai.
We are excited about the opportunity of playing in Shanghai for the first time and hope that our fans will experience the excitement of a new and exciting chapter in our club’s history.”
It was a significant moment for the NHL, which had been considering relocating to China for a few years.
At the time, there were no other NHL teams in the region, and only one team in the NHL’s own building, the Vancouver Giants, had a Chinese presence.
Vandermeer’s statement was an important step for the franchise, which was already one of the most successful teams in hockey history, having won seven Stanley Cups in the 1980s.
But the announcement of a Chinese franchise seemed like the beginning of the end of a long-standing NHL franchise in Canada, which has had two other teams in Toronto and Montreal.
As it turns out, it was only the beginning.
The announcement of the Chinese team was met with mixed reaction from NHL fans in Vancouver.
Some fans felt that it was an unneeded distraction to the franchise that was still in China while others felt that the team had already secured the rights to do the game there.
The Vancouver Times wrote that the decision was “unexpected” and that “a decision to move is a long time coming” and “has nothing to with the China government.”
“We feel that this is a big deal for the city of Vancouver and our fans,” wrote one commenter on the newspaper’s website.
The Canadian Press wrote that it “didn’t see the need” for the Chinese-based team and that the announcement was “a bit of a shock.”
“The Chinese have long had an interest in NHL hockey, but the franchise is now going to go to another country that has more NHL experience,” wrote the Montreal Gazette.
The Globe and Mail wrote that there was “much uncertainty” about the team’s future in China but that “there is no doubt that the Chinese are very interested in the game of hockey.”
“There’s a lot of excitement, a lot interest in the team in China,” a hockey fan told the Globe.
“I can’t imagine that there’s anything to the fact that it’s not going to happen.”
Despite the lack of fanfare, the announcement had the fans excited, and for good reason.
The franchise was expected to be one of, if not the first, NHL team to play its inaugural game in the Chinese market, and while the team might have played games in a number one spot in the world, the fans would now have the chance to experience hockey in a different country, and in a city they have been rooting for since the first game was played in 1983.
The Canucks had been one of Canada’s biggest franchises and had won the Stanley Cup in the late 1980s, but since then they had been playing games in the Pacific Northwest and had never been to China and have never