Sunday, June 28, 2015

Andong Song becomes first Chinese player ever taken in NHL Draft

For the first time, a Chinese player has been selected in the NHL draft, although, by way of Canada and New Jersey.

Andong Song made history after he was chosen by the New York Islanders with the No. 172 pick in the draft Saturday.

And it's been quite a journey.

The baby-faced (even by NHL rookie standards) 6-foot, 160-pound defenseman, who goes by the name "Misha," started playing hockey on a tiny rink in Beijing when his mother was trying to find him a sport. Once his talent was acknowledged, his family moved to Ontario where the 10-year-old Chinese boy was met with plenty of skepticism on the ice.

Song, now an 18-year-old who also plays on one of China's national teams, continually proved himself at each level, and was an assistant captain this past season on the varsity team at the prep school Lawrenceville in New Jersey.

Now the sixth-round NHL pick's pro rights belong to the Islanders after Song's selection was broadcast live in China.

Song hasn't yet met Islanders owner Charles B. Wang, who was born in Shanghai and moved to the U.S. with his family as a boy, but said he and his agent were aware of interest from the Islanders for some time.  He wasn't even certain that he was getting picked until his name was called.

"Being the first Chinese player, it's a lot of pressure from people back home, but good pressure," Andong said. "I hope that will motivate me to become a better player and hopefully I'll make them proud."

Nihao NHL.

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