Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will visit Beijing the week of Aug. 4 to serve as an “international ambassador” for the NHL as it seeks to grow hockey in China, the league announced Thursday.
“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 in a statement to NHL.com. “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.”
The Russian star’s week in Beijing will include attending youth hockey clinics and business development meetings.
“Alex represents the best in sports, as he epitomizes that combination of great talent, great personality and great sportsmanship,” said David Proper, the NHL’s executive in charge of international strategy. “He is the perfect person to represent the NHL’s efforts to grow hockey in China.”
No NHL player has ever hailed from China, a nation of more than 1.4 billion people, nearly 20% of the world population.
The league has held four preseason games in China, and earlier this year, it opened its first satellite office in the country.
Ovechkin spends his offseasons at his home in Moscow, where a flight to Beijing would take a little more than seven hours.