PITTSBURGH -- China Central TV hockey play-by-play announcer Wu Wei is predicting great interest and major success for the NHL's first games in China.
The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging, two preseason games prior to the 2017-18 regular season, Sept. 21 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Sept. 23 at Wukesong Arena in Beijing.
"It's the biggest deal," Wei said Monday at the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. "The NHL represents the highest level of all of hockey in the world. In China, Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, so hockey has become hotter and hotter in China.
"There are a lot of fans of the NHL that want to see games. They want to see the players. They want to take pictures with the players.
"So the NHL China Games are significant."
Video: Gary Bettman on the NHL preseason games in China
Wei is here for the Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators and will call the best-of-7 series on CCTV with commentator Li Longmou.
CCTV has broadcast live every Stanley Cup Playoff game since the start of the conference finals.
Wei is in his third season of announcing NHL games, calling almost 100 this season. CCTV shows four NHL regular-season games per week.
"The [Chicago] Blackhawks, when they won the 2015 Stanley Cup, that was my very first time to host a hockey game, and from that time I have loved this event," Wei said.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in China on March 29 to announce the preseason games, said Monday the League is committed to growing the sport there.
"We're working very hard and [we're] very focused with developing the Chinese market in part because we have been told by the Chinese government at very high levels that there is, leading to 2022, a priority to develop winter sports," Commissioner Bettman said. "I was told by the minister of sport when I was there about a month ago that they would like to see 300 million more participants in winter sports, particularly and including hockey.
"We said we would work very closely with the government to try to help grow the game at all levels. They said they would help us grow the business of the game at all levels. So it looks like the making of a very good partnership."