Back in the lineup: T-Birds alumnus Jason Yee joins HC Kunlun Red Star

HC Kunlun Red Star has another T-Bird joining their ranks: former ’Birds defenceman Jason Yee.

Yee is the third UBC player to have signed with the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) team this summer.

Based in Beijing, Kunlun is the only Chinese team in the KHL. Yee got the opportunity after participating in an identification camp last month, which recent Red Star signings and former T-Birds Luke Lockhart and Derek Dun also attended.  

“It was not really an opportunity that I was expecting and so it kind of came out of the blue to be honest,” said Yee. “When opportunities come up in life, you got to take them.”

 A native of Victoria, BC, Yee was a defenceman for the ’Birds from 2011 to 2015. He was Lockhart’s teammate during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Yee with former UBC teammates (left to right) Brendon Wall, Nate Fleming, Cole Wilson and Ben Schmidt.
Yee with former UBC teammates (left to right) Brendon Wall, Nate Fleming, Cole Wilson and Ben Schmidt. Courtesy Jason Yee

 “[Lockhart] is a good friend of mine,” said Yee. “It was cool to play with him for two years at UBC, and then it’s cool to be reunited with him again.” 

After graduating with his kinesiology degree, Yee went on to establish Train 2.0, a Vancouver-based business that provides hockey training for youth. Now that he has signed with Kunlun, Yee will no longer be able to coach on a full-time basis — an experience that he admittedly misses.

“I really like being able to spend quality time with kids. When you’re really spending time with them, that’s when you get to see them grow,” said Yee. “I do miss that a lot.” 

Still, Yee doesn’t plan on leaving his coaching job behind completely, as he will be returning to Vancouver during the offseason. He also sees his upcoming career with the Red Star as an opportunity to hone his skills as a coach.

“It provides a different learning opportunity for [the players I coach] and me,” said Yee. “I’m really excited to share what I learn playing at a really high professional level with the players.” 

Moving forward, there may be even more in store for Yee than just a professional career in the KHL. As a player of partial Chinese descent, he also has an opportunity to represent the Chinese national team in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. China is currently in the process of building its national hockey team for the event. 

“It’s exciting to potentially represent Team China in the Olympics,” he said. “A portion of my heritage is from [China] … I might have [the] opportunity here to represent part of my heritage.”

As much as he has to look forward to, Yee’s current goal is to make the best out of his time ahead with Kunlun. 

“I’ll take it day by day and make sure I’m having fun doing that,” said Yee. “I think the next few years are going to be really exciting.”