China Games could go long way in growth of NHL –

Do the math, and imagine.

China is the biggest country on Earth, home to 1.3 billion people. One tenth of a percent of the population is 1.3 million, larger than a couple of NHL markets. One percent is 13 million, larger than Sweden, where the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play in the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm on Nov. 10 and 11.

Three percent? That’s 39 million, larger than Canada.

[RELATED: NHL China Games coverage | Canucks beat Kings in preseason opener]

The potential is incredible as the NHL makes its first foray into the country with the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging. A tiny slice of the market would grow the game immensely.

The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks depart Sunday for two of the biggest cities on Earth: Shanghai, home to 34 million in the metro area, and Beijing, home to 24.9 million in the metro area. Each is larger than the NHL’s largest market, New York, home to 20.2 million in the metro area.

The Kings and Canucks play preseason games at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) and Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Saturday (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports). They will teach hockey to kids at events and speak to the Chinese media. There will be an NHL Fan Fest in Beijing.

No one knows what to expect.

“We do hope that bringing two NHL teams with the best hockey players in the world will generate certainly some attention, some excitement, some enthusiasm around the games,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “But we also realize we’re kind of painting on a totally blank canvas here.”

The point is to start brushing.

“We’re hoping

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