Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/28/07 at 01:05 AM ET
from Geoffrey York of the Globe and Mail,
It’s a sunny afternoon in the Beijing suburbs, and the thumping strains of Billy Idol and Duran Duran are echoing noisily through the Century Star Skating Rink in a futile effort to whip up enthusiasm from the tiny crowd of hockey fans.
It’s an inauspicious start for the NHL’s first venture into the Middle Kingdom. The potentially massive Chinese market has become the Holy Grail for sports promoters around the world, but the NHL is facing a hard struggle in its attempt to sell hockey to the 1.3 billion people of the world’s most populous country.
As recently as the 1980s, there were 16 hockey teams in China. But today, Chinese hockey has fallen into such a steep decline that one leading Chinese newspaper declared it “not far from death.”
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