Alex Ovechkin's trip to China as a NHL ambassador is officially underway. The Capitals captain will be in Beijing for a week long trip to help spread the game of hockey to the local kids.
He arrived at the Beijing airport around 11am where he was greeted by about 15-20 diehard fans, most of them donning Ovechkin jerseys and holding signs.
One of the little boys told us his English name is Alex and that he chose to give himself that name because of -- you guessed it -- No. 8.
Another supporter, Kevin Wang, who is originally from Beijing, told me he studied in D.C. for 4 years and got into the game hockey because of Ovi so when he saw that he would be coming to Beijing this week he knew he couldn't pass up the opportunity to greet him at the airport.
The kids all lined up for autographs and photos to which Ovi happily obliged. The sheer joy on all of the fans' faces as they got to be up close and personal with their hero was something none of us will ever forget. It was really special.
ORG Technology Co. is hosting a hockey tournament in Beijing the last couple of days called the Renaissance Tournament. Ovi visited the tournament where he met with the two teams playing, ORG's team prior to the game. He and Mr. Zhou Yunjie (Chairman of ORG Technology) dropped the ceremonial puck.
After dropping the puck Ovi watched some of the game where we noticed a familar last name on one of the jerseys of the Kunlun Red Stars: Bondra. As it turns out, Peter Bondra's son David is playing with the Red Stars during this tournament.
On his way out of the rink, Ovi stopped to take photos with the mobs of fans and sign autographs. Everyone at the tournament was extremely excited to have him there.
He was also gifted by Mr. Zhou a traditional jade carving of an ox (he was born in the Chinese Year of the ox).
Well that's it for day one here in China. Tomorrow should be really cool. Ovi will be on the ice at a clinic with 40 local kids. Is there anyone better to learn the game from?