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For the NHL, exhibition games are scheduled to return again in 2020. is a global place – one in five residents are foreign born and there are 190 embassies in our marketplace – our arena is also in the heart of D. “This is a unique opportunity for us a team that we feel really excited about.” For Ovechkin, he will look to further cement his position as the NHL’s most popular player globally, and is in the process of launching his own Weibo account, Abrutyn said, with the goal of capturing content during the season specifically for that audience.Proper said that the league will be engaging in more activities over the course of the upcoming season than it has ever had before, which could include other player visits – likely alumni as to not disrupt the playing season – further investments in grassroots and youth hockey and other events. There has already been interest from both China-based brands and companies to work with Ovechkin, as well as from local personalities who want to create content with him, Abrutyn said.“This was not intended to be a commercial activation trip – we wanted Alex to be able to connect with the hockey community and help to further the growth of the sport,” Proper said, adding that he and Abrutyn worked closely on a schedule that, “fit well with what Alex expressed interest in doing, and things that would not be burdensome but effective.” Ovechkin also took in some cultural sights, such as the Forbidden City and was treated to a traditional Peking duck dinner – “some of the things that frankly anyone should experience in Beijing,” Proper said.The visit was a boon for the NHL’s visibility in the country ahead of the start of next season.Ovechkin’s visit was also beneficial for the Washington Capitals as well, a team that is trying to use its location in a multicultural city to further broaden its fanbase internationally as well, according to Jim Van Stone, president of business operations and chief commercial officer for parent company Monumental Sports & Entertainment.The team added more than 11,000 Weibo followers to its newly launched account during Ovechkin’s trip, and it is now the third-most followed NHL club on the platform behind the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings – teams that have played games in China.However, the country has quickly emerged as one of the most exciting growth opportunities for the NHL.
Van Stone said the Capitals will continue to share content across its Weibo account not only to engage the audience in China, but also the Chinese-language speaking audience that travels or lives in the Washington D. “There is still a lot of work to do, but there’s no reason that can’t be done in China with continued investment into the sport.” READ MORE: Stanley Pup Correspondent Fetches New Fans for NBC Sports & NHL Even as all parties acknowledge it’s still early days for the sport of hockey and the NHL in China, Ovechkin’s trip and that scene at the airport is picture proof that progress is being made.An ambitious plan previously laid out by President Xi Jingping stated that it wanted to have 300 million ‘winter sports enthusiasts’ in the country by the time the games began. The league first brought two exhibition games to the country in 2017, repeating that in 2018 and with a deal with the NHLPA to host games in the country in six of eight years.The NHL has broadcasting and streaming deals with CCTV and Tencent.Coverage of Ovechkin prompted a spike in the number of followers across the NHL’s social channels in China, with the league now approaching one million followers.To date, the NHL’s video of Ovechkin’s trip to China has had more than 8.7 million video views.