NHL star Alex Ovechkin has high hopes for hockey in China
Sports Scene

Hockey is a relatively new sport in China and ice rinks, equipment and training and unfamiliar to many Chinese. But with the Beijing Winter Olympics two and half years away, the sport's getting renewed support.  

In its continued commitment to grow hockey in China, the NHL has sent one of the league’s biggest stars to Beijing – Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, 2018 Stanley Cup champion, and the only eight-time winner of the annual goal scoring title.

"To build the facilities, to bring coaches, to learn the system – that's the hardest thing I think," Ovechkin told CGTN Sports Scene, "for kids who want to play hockey they have to spend more time on the ice… watch some videos on how to play hockey and obviously the position of hockey has to grow up, because in Russia it's very popular, in America it's the same and Canada as well, and all Europe loves hockey so I hope in China they will love hockey much better too." 

Alex Ovechkin is greeted by fans at the airport in Beijing, China, August 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

Alex Ovechkin is greeted by fans at the airport in Beijing, China, August 4, 2019. /VCG Photo

Bob Xu, initiator and co-organizer of the 2019 International Collegiate Hockey Tournament, told the media he wanted to "create a platform for college students from all over the world from different levels of skills to play together".

The tournament involved college teams from eight countries including traditional powerhouses the U.S., Russia, and Finland, along with China and others.

"So I hope there're more teams from different countries to participate in next year's tournament in order to create warm elements in environment for the winter Olympics happening in Beijing 2022," added Xu.

"I think the more people we can involve, I think it will be better. I think you did a great job of helping hockey grow in China, and it's great," said Ovechkin.

With the help of the NHL and hockey icons such as Ovechkin and Wayne Gretzky, a global ambassador for China’s KHL team, Kunlun Red Star, hockey is certainly on the rise. The 2022 Winter Olympics on the horizon expect more pucks to fly.