Ovechkin visits China as ambassador: 'It's a good country to raise hockey'
Emmanuel Wong / National Hockey League / Getty

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin completed his five-day trip to China as the NHL's international ambassador feeling optimistic about hockey's future in the country.

"My hope, it's not only my hope, but all of the NHL hopes to raise hockey in China because it's a good country to raise hockey," Ovechkin said, according to the NHL.com's Tom Gulitti. "There's lots of people who don't know what hockey means and we tried to represent (that) hockey is a great game. I know lots of people are interested in that and hopefully, it will raise (interest)."

In an effort to grow the sport in China, the NHL began playing preseason games there in 2017 when the Los Angeles Kings played against the Vancouver Canucks in Shanghai and Beijing. In 2018, the Boston Bruins took on the Calgary Flames. The NHL plans to play more games in China in 2020-21 after skipping this upcoming preseason for logistical reasons.

This trip was Ovechkin's second to China after he attended the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and he hopes to return soon.

"It was a great experience for me," he said. "I met lots of great people. I met lots of great kids. I met people who want to grow hockey in China. It's been a great trip and, hopefully, I'll come back here next year, and we'll do some bigger stuff."

However, the 33-year-old knows there is plenty of work to be done in order to really grow the game in the country.

"I think it's very important for the Chinese people, the Chinese government to build lots of hockey rinks, bring some coaches here and learn the game, and I think they will do well," he said.

During his trip, Ovechkin attended two hockey clinics where he was welcomed by nearly 100 kids combined. He also joined ORG Technology chairman Zhou Yunjie - one of the biggest sponsors and supporters of the game in China - to drop the ceremonial first puck for the Renaissance Cup hockey tournament.

Ovechkin managed to sneak in some sight-seeing as well.

Emmanuel Wong / National Hockey League / Getty

"The big memory is just the whole experience - meeting with the Chinese people, seeing some different culture, learning some Chinese language, and some Chinese food, obviously," Ovechkin said. "We did everything we possibly we can, and I hope we will help to raise the idea of the game of hockey in China. We did our best."

Ovechkin visits China as ambassador: 'It's a good country to raise hockey'
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