Nearly three years ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will make an NHL-sponsored visit to Beijing, the host city, to serve as an international ambassador.
During his time in China, Ovechkin will participate in youth hockey clinics, a media tour, and business development meetings.
The announcement advances the NHL and the NHLPA’s commitment to growing the game globally.
“It is a huge honor for me to be an ambassador for the entire Washington Capitals organization and the National Hockey League for this special trip to China,” Ovechkin said. “I think it is very important to spend time to help make people all over the world see how great a game hockey is. I can’t wait to spend time with all the hockey fans there and I hope to meet young kids who will be future NHL players. I can’t wait for this trip!”
The NHL was similarly excited.
“We are very excited that Alex Ovechkin will be joining us in China this summer,” David Proper, NHL Executive Vice President of Media and International Strategy, added. “Alex represents the best in sports, as he epitomizes that combination of great talent, great personality and great sportsmanship. He is the perfect person to represent the NHL’s efforts to grow hockey in China.”
The news was first reported by China Sports Insider Mark Dreyer on Tuesday.
— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) July 16, 2019
Over the last few years, the NHL has tried to tap more into China as a resource. They sent the greatest player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, to the country during preseason games between the Bruins and Flames in Shenzhen and Beijing to run youth training camps.
“Good on the NHL for realizing [the game is increasingly popular in China] and they’ve stepped in,” Gretzky said to NHL.com. “They were over there last year and they’re really trying to put a bit of an imprint of our game and our sport in China, and it just helps make our game bigger.”
“The Chinese people have really rallied around hockey,” Gretzky added. “Somebody told me that last year, Game 6 (of the Stanley Cup Final) between [the] Pittsburgh [Penguins] and Nashville [Predators] had 36 million people in China that watched … so it shows you the size of the market in China is pretty amazing.”
While Gretzky was in the country, the Stanley Cup also visited China and the Great Wall for the first time.
— Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) September 10, 2018
The NHL and the Capitals have business connections with several Chinese companies as well.
According to the Washington Post’s Scott Allen, the Capitals have partnered with O.R.G. Packaging for three years. They also hosted 25 youth Beijing Hockey Association players in 2017 with Capitals players taking part in the skate. Monumental Sports and Entertainment also signed a deal with China-based Alibaba in April according to WTOP.
More from the Capitals:
The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin will visit China the week of August 4th serving as an international ambassador for the League. Ovechkin’s trip to Beijing will include youth hockey clinics, a media tour and business development meetings.
The 33-year-old native of Moscow, Russia has recorded 658-553-1,211 in 1,084 career games with the Capitals. Since entering the NHL at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals (658), power-play goals (247), power-play points (464), game-winning goals (107), shots (5,234) and ranks second in points (1,211). Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals since 1994-95 and shots since the 1993-94 season, despite beginning his NHL career in 2005. Ovechkin is the Capitals franchise leader in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals, overtime goals (22), shots and multi-goal games (132).
Ovechkin led Washington to the 2018 Stanley Cup, captured his first Conn Smythe Trophy and became the first Russian player to captain a Stanley Cup champion. In his career, Ovechkin has won a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Calder Trophy, an Art Ross Trophy, three Hart Memorial Trophies, three Ted Lindsay Awards and eight Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophies. He is the only player in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, a Calder, an Art Ross, a Hart, a Ted Lindsay and a Maurice Richard Trophy. Following a 51-goal season in 2018-19, Ovechkin won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer for a NHL-record eighth time and passed Bobby Hull for the most times a single player has led the NHL in goals in a season.
The announcement advances the NHL and the NHLPA’s commitment to grow the game globally.
The NHL has played four preseason games in China. The League dropped the puck in China in September of 2017 for the first time when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played two preseason games in front of enthusiastic crowds in Shanghai and Beijing, with the Kings winning both matchups (Los Angeles 5, Vancouver 2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Sept. 21, 2017; Los Angeles 4, Vancouver 3 at Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Sept. 23, 2017).
The League returned to China last September when the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames played a pair of preseason games in Shenzhen and Beijing. The Bruins won both contests (Boston 4, Calgary 3 in a shootout at Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen on Sept. 15, 2018; Boston 3, Calgary 1 at Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Sept. 19, 2018).
In addition, the Stanley Cup made its first visit to China in its 127-year history last September. The iconic trophy traveled to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Beijing, capturing the attention and awe of fans of all ages.
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is committed to hockey and expects to expand its participation in all winter sports to 300 million people by 2022. The NHL continues to collaborate with sports and other authorities across China in developing grassroots hockey programs while supporting local youth hockey and hockey development at all levels.
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