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Kings, Canucks players greet kids to help promote 2017 China Games

Hockey demonstration, autograph session draws crowd at Shanghai mall

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

SHANGHAI -- You had to turn left at Hugo Boss and walk by Lululemon to find Dustin Brown and Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings, and Anders Nilsson and Bo Horvat of the Vancouver Canucks.

Hockey neatly intersected with fashion Wednesday during a meet-and-greet session with the players and a hockey demonstration with kids at the Kerry Centre Mall on Nanjing Road to promote the 2017 China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging. The Canucks play the Kings at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports), and at Wukesong Arena in Beijing on Saturday (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV). 

This would be a lot like having a ball hockey clinic on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth Avenue in New York. Except those shopping meccas almost seem practically understated compared to the glitzy commerce of Nanjing Road. At the mall, the kids were thrilled to take part in the demonstration, get autographs and pose with the teams' mascots. The love of mascots seems to cross all borders.

"They are excited for us to be here," said Kempe, who was born and raised in Kramfors, Sweden. "I think it's great. It draws a lot of fans, a lot of kids to the sport. It's great for hockey, and they should do this back home in Sweden too."

Kempe, 21, has played in 25 NHL games. Brown, 32, has played 964 regular-season games (all with the Kings), represented the United States twice in the Olympic Games (2010, '14) and was with the Kings when they opened the NHL season against the Anaheim Ducks in London in 2007.

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In other words, Brown has done his globe-trotting share of hockey promotion. But bringing the NHL to China is unique, a historic step for the sport.

"It's a different feel, in a good way," Brown said. "We go to a lot of cities where there is a hockey environment. But these kids here today have never seen NHL players or hockey players that much. They're just excited to get a name on a jersey."

Kevin Westgarth, vice president of business development and international affairs for the League, helped with hosting duties.  

"We're in a great position to be able to help grow the game here," he said. "It's something that absolutely makes sense. Even with the excitement we are seeing, it's certainly in its nascent stages. It's a young sport here."

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