Wayne Gretzky has been named global ambassador of the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL, the team announced on Tuesday.
The club plans to have Gretzky focus on aiding youth development in China at a planned hockey school that will provide training for kids aged eight to 17.
"Having Wayne Gretzky on board is a tremendous boost for hockey in China," Red Star's Executive Director Ao Meng told the ChinaDaily.com's Sun Xiaochen. "To now have him part of the growth of hockey in China in the buildup to the 2022 Winter Olympics will promote interest and participation in the sport, especially among young people."
The move looks to be the latest ploy by the country to boost its hockey program ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing.
"I'm excited to make my first trip to China next month and partner with Kunlun Red Star to grow this wonderful game," Gretzky said. "I'm looking forward to seeing more and more young players take part in the sport."
The NHL has made it a priority in recent years to try and tap into the Chinese market. The league announced in May that the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames would play two preseason games in China. It will mark the second straight season the NHL has played preseason contests overseas after the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played a pair of exhibition games in China last year.