The 2014–15 Champions Hockey League is the first season of the Champions Hockey League, a European ice hockey tournament launched by 26 clubs, 6 leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The regulation round began on 21 August 2014 and end on 8 October 2014. The following playoffs will begin on 4 November 2014 and end on 4 February 2015.
On 9 December 2013, the IIHF officially announced that they had launched the Champions Hockey League tournament, starting in the 2014–15 season. The season's format was revealed on 20 December 2013, during the playoffs of the 2013 European Trophy.
44 clubs from eleven different European first-tier leagues will participate in this season. A full list of the teams participating in the inaugural season was presented on 13 May 2014.
A license: The 26 founding clubs all got an A license, since they play in the first-tier league of their respective system in the 2014–15 season.
B license: Two teams – the regular-season winner and the play-off champion in the 2013–14 season – from each of the founding leagues (the Austrian EBEL, the Czech Extraliga, the Finnish Liiga, the German DEL, the Swedish SHL and the Swiss NLA) will also participate. If those already received an A license, other teams from the league can take the B license spots. The order the B licenses will be handed out is:
Teams in the 2014–15 Champions Hockey League. Red: Group A; Yellow: Group B; Green: Group C; Black: Group D; Brown: Group E; Pink: Group F; Blue: Group G; Orange: Group H; Purple: Group I; Deep pink: Group J; Turquoise: Group K.
The group stage began on 21 August 2014 and end on 8 October 2014. The 44 teams are divided into eleven groups of four teams each. Each team play a double round-robin in their group, facing each team at home and on the road, giving 6 games per team. In total, 132 games will be played in the group stage. The 11 group winners will qualify for the playoffs. The 11 group runners-up will then be ranked on their amount of points in their respective groups, and the five best ranked runners-up will qualify for the playoffs, for a total of 16 playoff teams. The playing format (i.e. overtime and/or shootout in tied games) hasn't been announced, nor the tie-breaking formula in case two or more teams end up tied in points.
The schedule was released on 2 June 2014, with 30 of 44 teams playing their first match 21 August 2014, and the other teams playing their first match the following day.
The eleven groups were determined by a draw, which took place on 21 May 2014 in Minsk, Belarus. The 44 teams were ranked and placed into four pots of 11 teams each. Following the draw, each group consists of one team from each basket. The following criteria was used to rank the teams: 1. Champions of the six founding leagues, 2. Regular season winners of the six founding leagues, 3. Remaining A- and B-license teams according to placing within their leagues, 4. Wild card teams, according to placing within their leagues.
Where teams finished in the same place in their respective leagues, they were ranked according to the IIHF World Ranking of the leagues. The seedings were as follows;
The group stage draw took place at 21 May 2014 and the teams were assigned to eleven groups from A to K. The schedule was released on 2 June 2014, with 30 of 44 teams playing their first match 21 August 2014, and the other teams playing their first match the following day.
The eleven group winners and the five best group runners-up will qualify for the playoffs, which will begin on 4 November 2014 and end with the final on 3 February 2015. It will be played as a single-elimination tournament, meaning that the losing teams in each round are eliminated from the tournament.