25 June 2021
In the KHL, 2021 is celebrated as the 75th anniversary of ice hockey in Russia. It’s an impressive milestone, and those years build into a story studded with great achievements. Here at Kunlun Red Star, 2021 is also an anniversary – a more modest five years, in our case, but still a cause for satisfaction and celebration. Our journey is not yet so long, but we all remember how it began.
So why do we regard today, June 25, as the birthday of our club? You can find the answer in an article published on the KHL’s website exactly five years ago, on June 25, 2016.
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Today in Beijing, as part of an official visit by President of Russia Vladimir Putin to the People’s Republic of China, the heads of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Beijing hockey club, Kunlun Red Star, gathered to signed the agreement which paves the way for the Chinese club to participate in the 2016-17 season of the KHL Championship.
The signing took place at an official ceremony attended by the Russian President and his Chinese counterpart, Mr Xi Jinping. Signing the document on behalf of the League was Gennady Timchenko, the Chairman of the KHL Board of Directors, and Ngok Yan Yu, who is Chairman of the Board at Kunlun Red Star.
The presence of both nations’ heads of government at the signing ceremony illustrated the high level of official support for the inclusion of the club in the Championship. The project to expand the League to the People’s Republic had already received the approval of the Russian and Chinese Ministries of Sport and also the heads of the two nation’s Hockey Federations.
Both the Russian and Chinese Hockey Federations today reaffirmed their commitment to providing the required support to the club regarding its further development, the staging of games, and the creation of a Kunlun Red Star hockey school.
The entry of a Chinese club into the KHL, the strongest hockey league on the vast land mass of Eurasia, marks a significant and positive step in nurturing cooperation and cultural exchange between China and Russia, and indeed with other nations, as the 2022 Winter Olympic are to be held in Beijing.
Today’s agreement means China becomes the eighth country to have a club competing in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The coaching staff of HC Beijing Kunlun Red Star will be led by Vladimir Yurzinov Jr, a man who has earned a formidable reputation throughout the world of hockey, having amassed a wealth of experience with teams in the KHL as well as in various leagues in several other countries.
The KHL’s newest club will now embark on its first mission – to assemble the roster – and in addition to Chinese players, Red Star is already planning to attract highly experienced professionals from Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic.
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And that’s how the KHL welcomed its newest member. Back then it wasn’t even clear exactly what name the team might take – in English, we were known as ‘Beijing Kunlun Red Star’ and in Russian as ‘Red Star Kunlun’. But that was quickly sorted out and, more importantly, we quickly proved that pro hockey can exist in China. Of course, over the past five years, we have found many obstacles in our path and had to overcome many unexpected problems. But, like they say, if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And, believe us, despite the hard times, we’ve loved every single day of it. For five years we’ve celebrated a festival of hockey in the Dragons’ lair and we’re sure that there is much more to come!