According to NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, the Penguins are under consideration to play in an international game at some point in the future. Speaking at a press conference in San Jose as a part of NHL All-Star weekend, Daly told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Penguins are one of the teams being considered for an upcoming slate of international games the NHL is currently planning.
Mackey followed up his original question, asking Daly to elaborate on what ideas the league may have in mind for the Penguins playing overseas.
I asked Daly basically whether the Penguins were being considered for international competition. He said yes. Asked him to expound. Here’s his answer: pic.twitter.com/oVHC9ee3Hq
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) January 25, 2019
Based on Daly’s answer, it seems that the league has a very specific idea of how they want to use the Penguins on an international stage and are determined to use them in a situation that will best fit the team and building the league’s image wherever they are asked to play. Obviously all the details of any international games are still fluid and could change at any moment.
Daly did not offer any further details on locations where the Penguins could playing international games in the future but for the league as a whole, China has been a target for growing the game for a few years now. Connor McDavid went on an offseason media tour through China a few summers ago and the NHL has not been shy about its long term plan for the country.
Along with McDavid’s tour, the NHL played two preseason games there this September and Daly said the plan to play two more next preseason is already in the works with the details currently a work in progress.
Daly said the NHL does anticipate going to China again for two preseason games next season, but it’s a work in progress.
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) January 25, 2019
Just for speculation purposes, it is hard to see the NHL sending the Penguins all the way to China just for two preseason games but they did send a popular Boston Bruins squad there this past preseason so who knows that the NHL has in mind.
This also isn’t to say that China is the end all be all for the NHL’s international plans with the Penguins. The league has hosted games in several European cities throughout the years, usually picking teams based on roster tie ins to certain countries. Taking a quick glance at the Penguins roster, Sweden could be on the docket with Patric Hornqvist and Marcus Pettersson, Finland with Olli Maatta and Juuso Riikola, or perhaps even the Czech Republic with Dominic Simon.
Previously, the Penguins opened the 2008-09 season in Stockholm, Sweden with a pair of games against the Ottawa Senators.
Though nothing it set in stone at the moment, given the NHL’s willingness to market the Penguins whenever the chance presents itself, it seems like a solid bet that the Penguins will be playing overseas sometime in the very near future. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly where they will be headed.