When the Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Minnesota WIld play the latest Global Series contests in Stockholm this Thursday through Saturday, the National Hockey League will have played 17 regular-season games in Sweden — easily the most for any country outside of North America.
But the league’s international strategy is expanding — both in and outside the continent.
Since the NHL shortlisted Mexico City as one of its future host cities, the Dallas Stars have emerged as a leader for the movement, as well as building a fanbase south of the border, per the Dallas Morning News.
Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts estimates that although the league is interested in making it happen, it could take a while to actually follow through.
“Not 10 [years], but not two either,” Alberts said. “This isn’t like we’re going to a Scandinavian country where hockey is played… You’ve got to get the operational logistics figured out, but then you’ve got to make sure there’s a fanbase to support it. The last thing we want to do is go play a game down there and then not be able to sell tickets.”
Dallas hired Al Montoya — a former player who was the league’s first native Spanish speaker when he was drafted in 2004 — as its director of community outreach in 2021 to lead the efforts to build a Mexican fanbase.
One place the NHL will have no problem selling tickets is Québec City, where the league just announced it will stage two preseason games in 2024, both involving the Los Angeles Kings.
Canada’s 11th-largest city was home to the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques from 1979 through 1995, when they moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche; Québec City has been the subject of expansion or relocation rumors essentially ever since.
The NHL still has big ambitions outside of North America, though.
In September, the league staged its first-ever games in Australia when the Kings and Arizona Coyotes faced off in preseason action. The NHL is also poised to decide on whether or not it will return to the Olympics for the 2026 Winter Games in Milano-Cortina.