Great Walls, ancient and modern. A day out in Beijing

Source: Club Press-Office

14.12.2016

At last the relentless schedule of KHL action offered a brief respite, and for the past couple of days our guys had a chance for some well-earned R&R. It’s not much, of course, but even a rare, solitary day off is a priceless opportunity for our players to recharge their batteries. Some chose to spend the time with their families, others took time out to get to know more about their new homes in Beijing.

For Brett Bellemore and Tuukka Mantyla the long-awaited rest day meant it was finally time to visit the Great Wall of China. The Wall, of course, is an internationally-recognized monument with no equivalent anywhere else in the world. We could draw a modest parallel with Kunlun, which similarly has no equivalent in the world of hockey.

The symbolism doesn’t end there: the trip into the hills to the north of Beijing involved two defensemen, players who are forming the foundation of Kunlun’s success this season. Bellemore, a powerful Canadian, has racked up more minutes on the ice than anyone else on the team and averages 20:58 per game. His Finnish colleague is only slightly less busy at 20:23, but his tally of 17 points (7+10) makes him our most prolific blue liner. Both have their strengths, but what really unites them is their indomitable thirst for battle, a spirit that sees them give their all in every shift and fight for victory until the very end. It’s not fanciful to suggest that for Red Star, these guys represent the same kind of safety and security that the Great Wall itself was built to offer the Ming Dynasty.

Of course, nothing in this world is perfect. Just as the Manchus finally found a way to get over the Great Wall, so our team does concede goals to the opposition. That’s life. But there’s one important difference.

The Manchus only broke down the Ming defense thanks to the betrayal of one Wu Sangui, a general who opened the gates of the Shanhai Pass to let the invaders through. But in Kunlun’s locker room you won’t hear the word ‘betrayal’ in any of the different languages spoken by our players. As a result, we can have even greater faith in our modern-day ‘Great Wall’ – Brett, Tuukka and their partners on the blue line – than in the original Great Wall of China.

As well as their history lesson, our players also met up with a film crew from Russia’s leading sports channel, Match TV, during their tour of the Great Wall. And that means that soon our fans will get a chance to see a bit more of the life of our club in a feature that promises to be just as exciting and entertaining as Kunlun’s games.

Don’t miss it!