Kings start Beijing program, will help grow game in China
The Los Angeles Kings and the NHL are strengthening their presence in China and expanding their relationship with ORG Packaging, a packaging and containers company based in Beijing, with the launch of the Beijing Jr. Kings.
The agreement makes the Beijing Jr. Kings the first-ever youth hockey development program created (jointly created with ORG Packaging), owned and operated by the LA Kings outside Los Angeles and the first-ever development initiative for any NHL team in China.
The program will be housed at the new Beijing A.Z. Ice Sports Club and former Kings forward Todd Elik will serve as head coach.
One year ago, the Kings and Vancouver Canucks played the first NHL games in China. Facing off for two preseason games in China – one at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai (Sept. 21, 2017) and one at Wukesong Arena in Beijing (Sept. 23, 2017) – the Kings won both games, and history was made.
“Coming off the success of our trip to China last year, and the numerous clinics and camps we have hosted in China over the years, this is a tremendous announcement for the LA Kings and we are very pleased to not only continue our relationship with ORG but to also expand our relationship with ORG in a very meaningful way,” said Kings president Luc Robitaille. “The goal of the Beijing Jr. Kings is to continue to grow the game of hockey in China at a grassroots level, and to continue to build the LA Kings in China. We are also thrilled that Todd and his family have moved overseas and are playing an integral role as we create this new, historic opportunity.”
Serving as the Beijing Jr. Kings goalie coach is Mitch O’Keefe, who has spent the last year and a half coaching and evaluating youth hockey for the Black Armour Hockey Program in Beijing where he was assistant coach as well as head goalie coach.
The Kings will support the Beijing Jr. Kings by sending Kings players – current and alumni – to China each year to help teach kids the basics of hockey and to help generate excitement and awareness about the sport on the whole. The Kings will also be heavily involved by hosting coaches training programs, player exchange programs, youth hockey clinics, official LA Kings prospect camps, prospect development camps, tryout opportunities, player development support and international tournament development opportunities.
Registration for the Beijing Jr. Kings has begun. The program is initially expected to have 2-3 teams. The age range for Beijing Jr. Kings participants is 8-10 years old.
“ORG AZ Rink is very proud to partner with the LA Kings to launch the Jr. Kings program at our rink in Beijing,” said Beijing A.Z. Ice Sport Club general manager Yijun Huang. “We are dedicated to establishing a standardized, durable and sustainable youth hockey training system, and we are committed to growing the sport of hockey among the youth in China. We believe the Jr. Kings program will serve as a perfect platform for that mission.”
The Kings have traveled to China the past three summers and have worked with youth hockey officials, coaches and kids to help grow the game in a country that has had limited exposure to ice hockey. The Kings Hockey Development department has spearheaded these initiatives in conjunction with the Kings Alumni Association. Also in recent years, kids from China have traveled to Los Angeles to participate in the annual Kings Youth Hockey Camp in El Segundo. The kids from China also participated in scrimmages here against members of the Jr. Kings program.
When the Kings went to China last year, the hockey club placed a heavy emphasis on current players interacting with kids and young hockey players in particular, including several on-ice clinics, player appearances and meet-and-greets. During the 2017-18 NHL regular season, the Kings hosted the club’s first Chinese Heritage Night at STAPLES Center and the Kings will host their second annual Chinese Heritage Night next February.
— LA Kings Staff
(Nov. 6, 2018)