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BARRY THE BUILDER

Former NHLer has played important role in growing game in Hong Kong

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

Back in the day, he answered to Bubba and, at 6-foot-3 and 215-lb., could pound the puck or flatten forwards with the force of an oncoming freight train.

"Ah," jokes Barry Beck, the second over-all pick in the 1977 NHL Draft, "the good old days."

It's 9 a.m. in Hong Kong (7 p.m. the previous early evening, in Calgary) and in Unit 1013, offices of the Hong Kong Ice Hockey Academy on Trademart Drive overlooking Kowloon Bay, the work day is beginning.

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SECOND CRACK

Flames trip to China this fall comes 20 years after they played a pair of tilts in Japan to help grow the game internationally

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

As the travelling party, in various stages of sleep-deprivated stupor, stumbled off Japan Airlines Flight 15 at Narita International Airport on Oct. 8, 1998, following an 11-hour flight, a horde of Tokyo media, roughly 30 strong, met them at the gate.

They were all clamouring for a minute or two of one passenger's time.

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WIN-WIN

Giordano said trip to China will help grow the game but also give Flames head start on next season

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

The closest thing Mark Giordano has come to a Great Wall is Finnish, not Chinese, and forged from a cat-batting-a-ball-of-yarn quickness, a Gumby-esque flexibility and an almost zen-like competitiveness, not stone, brick, tamped earth and wood.

The fortification known as Miikka Kiprusoff, designed to keep out marauding armies of Oilers, Red Wings and Sharks, stands only 6-foot-2-inches tall. 

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GROWING THE GAME

Bill Daly talks about the impact of the NHL China Games

by GEORGE JOHNSON / CalgaryFlames.com

The 2018 O.R.G. China Games are only the second step in what the NHL hopes is planning on being a long walk together.

In the wake of a highly-successful initial two-game foray into China involving the L.A. Kings and Vancouver Canucks a year ago, the Flames and Boston Bruins are slated for another pair of tilts: at the Universiade Centre in Shenzhen on Sept. 15 and Beijing's Cadillac Arena four days later.

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'WE'RE LUCKY'

Flames amped for opportunity to showcase game in China

by GEORGE JOHNSON @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

The sheer scope is something that requires a moment to wrap your head around.

"It's funny,'' muses Flames' GM Brad Treliving, "but when we started seriously talking about this possibility with the league, they mentioned we'd be playing one game in Shenzhen. 

"I'm like … 'Shenzhen. Shenzhen? Where's Shenzhen? What's in Shenzhen? Why are we going to Shenzhen?'

"Well, because 12 million people live in Shenzhen. And you're going: 'Holy smokes'

"So that's actually like asking: 'Why are we going to New York?'"

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FLAMES TO PLAY IN O.R.G. NHL CHINA GAMES

The Flames will face the Bruins in preseason action in Shenzhen, Beijing

by CALGARY FLAMES STAFF @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY - The National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and Bloomage International jointly announced today that the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins will travel to China in September to participate in the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games.

On Saturday, September 15, the Calgary Flames will play host to the Boston Bruins in the first of two preseason games at Shenzhen Universiade Center in Shenzhen, and on Wednesday, September 19, the Bruins will host the Flames at Cadillac Arena in Beijing.

This announcement advances the NHL and the NHLPA's commitment to grow the game globally, while furthering the League and the Association's international strategy.

"I think this is going to be a great experience for our guys," said general manager Brad Treliving. "This is a great opportunity for us to experience a different culture while showcasing our league and our product."

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A WHIRLWIND TRIP

Flames alumni look back on their journey to China in 2013

by GEORGE JOHNSON @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

As far as rink-views go, this one rates right up near the top.

"Spectacular,'' recalls Colin Patterson. "Absolutely spectacular. The rink is 12 stories up. Inside a shopping mall. 

"You're on the ice, you can look out a window and see the harbour."

The Flames have, in fact, played in the China/Hong Kong market before. Five years ago, the ice surface high up in MegaBox Mall in Kowloon, the old, traditional section, was home to the Hockey Night in Hong Kong initiative which saw alumni hold clinics and pick-up games with those attending the camps.

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