Beijing is nearly ready for the puck to drop. An official has told Inside the Games that the Olympic hockey venue in Wukesong's LeSports Center will be ready for Red Star Kunlun to play its first season home game against Russian team Admiral Vladivostok on September 5.
Officials are surely hoping that next month's Red Star Kunlun home game will whet winter sports fans' appetites for the 2022 Olympic games and for Chinese hockey in general. The venue, at least, has a quite an established history in that regard, given it was built for the 2008 Games (albeit to host basketball).
Those officials are also, no doubt, hoping the forthcoming home game will be less controversial than Red Star Kunlun's August 12 match against the Barys Astana. During that game, according to RT, Astana enforcer Damir Ryspayev picked a fight with not only one, but then ALL of the Red Star players by approaching the Beijing team's bench after tussling with a few of their teammates on the ice. You can watch the madness unfold here [VPN required].
It was indeed a rough introduction to the sport for Beijing, which has high hopes for hockey in the 2022 Games. In June Kunlun Red Star official joined the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), a Russian hockey club known as the sport's biggest league outside the National Hockey League (NHL). The debut was marked by a lavish signing ceremony attended by none other than Chinese and Russian leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.
The Beijing team's roster is made up of players from around the world, including Russia, Canada, America, France and three players from China. One of the most promising of the Chinese players is centre Rudi Ying. According to a recent KHL news article, Ying was born in Connecticut, and made a name for himself in Boston after making the cut for the Bruins' junior team. Although that makes him sound very much like any other American-born-Chinese athelete, Ying insists that his loyalties lie in the Middle Kingdom, telling KHL news: “I'm Chinese, and my dream is to play for my country. I have had the chance to play for China in three World Junior Championships, and I was even made captain, which makes me very proud. Now I have to get into in the senior team and help it to perform well at the Olympics. This is the main dream in my life.”
Before long, The Middle Kingdom might not have to look abroad for such talent, be they of Chinese lineage or not. Some of the country's youth hockey league teams are already performing beyond expectations, including a Beijing team called the Snow Leopards that handily beat their Canadian rival, the Kanata Singers from Ottawa, at a staggering score of 6-0. Meanwhile CCM has some videos of young Chinese players skating up a storm and stick handling like seasoned vets. We might just see the day before long when a Beijinger hoists the Stanley Cup above his head with his fellow championship teammates (perhaps that's the secret weapon that the Toronto Maple Leafs need to finally end their eternal losing streak).
Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog