Guest Post to All Habs Hockey Magazine

European Champions Hockey League’s inaugural season

European ice hockey fans are counting down to the new premium club competition, The Champions Hockey League. The competition will start in August 2014 and will run through until February 2015. It will include forty of the top clubs from around Europe and the International Ice Hockey Federation will hold a draw for the groups on 21 May 2014, which coincides with 2014 World Championships in Minsk.

20_920x518It’s not the first time that a champion’s tournament has taken place in Europe. In honour of the 100th anniversary of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 2008, the federation held a champions tournament on a much smaller scale. Back then there were 14 clubs, drawn from the Liiga (Finland), NLA (Switzerland), Slovak Extraliga (Slovakia), Czech Extraliga (Czech Republic), KHL (Russia) and DEL (Germany). The overall winner was SC Bern from NLA, which defeated Metallurg Magnitogorsk from KLA.

Obviously, for any participating European club, to be crowned supreme club of the continent is a prize worth fighting for. And those interested in betting on the outcome of any IIHF matches can check out the odds on their favourite betting site.

Those teams going into the draw will include the regular season winners from each of the six Founding Leagues, 26 Founding Clubs and the reigning national champions.

The Founding Leagues and Founding Clubs of the Champions Hockey League are

AUSTRIA (EBEL): EC Red Bull Salzburg, UPC Vienna Capitals

CZECH REPUBLIC (Tipsport Extraliga): HC Bili Tygri Liberec, HC Pardubice, HC Sparta Prague, HC Vitkovice Ostrava

GERMANY (DEL): Adler Mannheim, Eisbären Berlin, ERC Ingolstadt, Krefeld Pinguine

FINLAND (Liiga): IFK Helsinki, JYP Jyväskylä, KalPa Kuopio, Kärpät Oulu, Tappara Tampere, TPS Turku

SWITZERLAND (NLA): SC Bern, Fribourg-Gottéron, ZSC Lions Zurich, EV Zug

SWEDEN (SHL): Djurgården Stockholm, Frölunda Gothenburg, Färjestad Karlstad, HV71 Jönköping, Linköpings HC, Luleå Hockey.

The Champions Hockey League games schedule will include 149 games. This is an exciting time for European ice hockey and the Champions Hockey League will be a collaboration between the International Ice Hockey Federation, the national European leagues and the professional clubs.

The 40 clubs taking part will also include some Wild Card entries; top clubs belonging to other European national leagues. The Regulation Round will be the first stage of the competition tournament, with matches from 21 August to 7 October. The forty clubs will have been drawn in ten groups of four, and they’ll play through their matches in round-robin style. We’ve yet to find out if the IIHF will use a Goal or Game Aggregate system. The ten group winners will then move through to the Playoff Round, between 4 November 2014 and 4 February. The runners-up of the groups will be ranked according to points and the six best will be added to the Playoff Round so that there are 16 teams taking part.

Currently, it’s not certain how much TV coverage the Champions Hockey League will get in the United States or Canada, but this would certainly help boost interest in international hockey tournaments such as this one.