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China Games

McAvoy bracing for unique experience with Bruins at NHL China Games

Defenseman plans to visit Great Wall before playing Flames in Shenzhen, Beijing

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

CHICAGO -- Charlie McAvoy is eager to fly halfway across the world with most of his Boston Bruins teammates for the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games.

But the 20-year-old defenseman has no clue what to expect and no real concept of the culture shock he's about to experience. 

"It's going to be unique, that's for sure," McAvoy said at the NHL Player Media Tour last week. "Growing up, I can't say I ever wanted to go to China. It's never something that ever crossed my mind. So now I'm heading over there and we're going to play a couple preseason games over there and it's going to be cool. It's another stamp on the passport. I've never said no to those."

The Bruins, who fly to China on Tuesday, will play two preseason games against the Calgary Flames. The first is at Universiade Sports Center in Shenzhen on Saturday. They also play at Cadillac Arena in Beijing on Sept. 19 before returning home to resume training camp.

"This year, the first trip I had [after last season], I went to Anguilla, which was a beautiful island and I had never even heard of it," McAvoy said. "China will definitely beat that one."

McAvoy has a lot of stamps on his passport because he's no stranger to international travel for hockey. He's played in tournaments for the United States in Switzerland (he called it the most beautiful country he's been to), Finland, Denmark, France and Germany as well as Canada.

In all those trips, though, he's never sought out tourist attractions on his own or in advance of traveling. He's never done any studying on where he was going. He never let anything take his mind away from the game.

"I'm not really someone who does my due diligence on a trip," he said. "It probably would make my trips better if I did look up things to do over here. But every time I go I'm playing hockey. … I'm going for business, which I think every one of my passport stamps represents."

It's the same for the China trip, but he wants this one to be different. This trip is so out of the box for McAvoy that he said he needs to take as much time as he's allowed to be a tourist, to take in the history, to learn about where he is.

"Great Wall of China for sure," McAvoy said of what he wants to see when there. "I'll probably tire out the legs a fair amount but that's the one thing." 

The Bruins have scheduled an optional team trip to the Great Wall for Sunday.

"I don't know if I'll be back, so go check it out," McAvoy said.

McAvoy is also curious about what the Bruins will get out of the journey other than the culture shock and the experience. He thinks the bonding aspect of the trip could create a chemistry the Bruins otherwise wouldn't have a chance to create if they were in North America all preseason.

Video: NHL returns to Shanghai, Beijing for 2018 China Games

If it happens that way, McAvoy predicts big things ahead for the Bruins.

"You take a team, or pretty much the vitals of the team -- we have [Patrice Bergeron] and [Zdeno Chara] and a couple guys who aren't going -- and you send all of us, many who haven't gone there, out of our comfort zone, somewhere where we're definitely not comfortable, it's going to be culture shock," McAvoy said. "I think it'll be an opportunity for us to all confide in each other, really stick together and go at it together while we kick off the year. 

"I'm curious to see what it does for our team when we get back and what it does for the culture of our team. Guys like [Bergeron] and [Chara] and [Torey] Krug, they're at the forefront of our culture, but getting the connection of everyone who is going to China and then bringing those guys who aren't going back in when we return, you could have something really special."

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