SHANGHAI - After a week in China, the #BruinsGlobal crew has settled into Shanghai for the rest of the trip to run youth hockey clinics at Champion Rink - a rink that is actually located on the seventh floor of a shopping mall.
Shanghai is south of Beijing and features a warmer climate, so hockey isn't as prevalent as in Beijing, where the Bruins ran clinics out of a brand new, state-of-the-art hockey rink built by O.R.G. Packaging. Still, there are many kids playing hockey in Shanghai, and about 100 kids are participating in the clinics this week.
Throughout the Bruins' 10-day trip to China, the Chinese company O.R.G. Packaging has been hosting Torey Krug, David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask, and alum Hal Gill, along with Bruins staff members.
While the youth hockey players in China are not at the same ability level as in North America, the kids listen and learn quickly.
"It's been good," Rask said of the experience. "This rink [in Shanghai] is not the same size as Beijing, but we manage, and we do the same drills, and the kids are having fun, so that's the most important thing."
Rask has been working with the goalies each day, teaching them about the position and about certain drills they can do to help their technique.
"I try to teach them how to catch pucks, and how to learn a little bit of technique, because that's not necessarily what they've been learning here," said Rask. "So they seem to be adapting and learning really well, so that's good."
The biggest area of improvement that Rask sees for the youth players in China, especially the goalies, is their power skating.
"Most of them have pretty good basics and have style, but one of the main things they need to learn to do is skate better," said Rask. "And I think that's probably something, that all goalies should learn how to skate, because that's something that teaches you balance, and learning how to be on your skates, learning edges."
"They can definitely stand there, but when you need to start moving, it's going to be different, so that's something I've tried to teach them a little bit, too, how to move and stop," said Rask. "It's difficult because we're here once a year and they don't necessarily see those drills ever again, so it's good that they actually have something in their memory bank and they can keep those things for their own practicing."
"It's baby steps, and that's what we're here to do. It's good to see that the interest is there," said Rask.
In addition to the time on the ice teaching kids about the game, each day in China has consisted of a new sightseeing adventure.
"It's great. I'd definitely tell people to visit this place," Rask said of Shanghai, which resembles New York City with its sprawling skyscrapers and shopping streets. "It's huge, they said 24 million people live here. And just the buildings we saw and to see how far out the city extends, it's amazing."
Each night, the skyline of New Shanghai (called "Pudong") lights up like Times Square for about four hours, and then the lights shut off promptly at 11:00 p.m. It is quite a visual, and thousands of people from all over Shanghai flock to watch the lights.
The skyline is incredible, because the first buildings in New Shanghai weren't built until the mid-1990s, so it is quite a contrast to the other parts of the city. It is also home to the second tallest building in the world.
"In the nighttime, that was the most impressive thing with the lights when they turn them on - from the hotel, we were looking right at the lights and that was a pretty unique experience for sure," said Rask.
Stay updated throughout the "Bruins Global: China 2017" trip, presented by O.R.G. Packaging, on BostonBruins.com, and by following the Bruins on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and by following the hashtag #BruinsGlobal.
This marks the Bruins' second official visit to China to help grow the sport of hockey in China, strengthen the connection between the Bruins and the local Chinese community in New England, and educate others about the growth of hockey in China.
In 2015, the Bruins entered into a partnership with the Chinese packaging company, O.R.G. Packaging, which hosts the organization in China. Throughout the past two years, the B's have made two visits to China to teach on-ice clinics and off-ice training to hundreds of kids. In addition, Chinese youth hockey players have also visited Boston during the season to participate in clinics, explore the city of Boston, and watch Bruins' home games.
The Bruins' 2016 trip to China was featured in the Bruins television show, Behind the B, which airs locally on NESN. The episode, which chronicled the organization's trip, won the 2017 New England Emmy Award for Best Sports Series. The episode can be watched by clicking here.