The IIHF launched a tournament with the same name in 2008 to coincide with the IIHF's 100th anniversary. The tournament's only season was played between 8 October 2008 and 28 January 2009, and was won by the ZSC Lions who got to play in the 2009 Victoria Cup game as a result. The IIHF planned to launch another season, but was ultimately forced to cancel the tournament due to problems with finding sponsors and failure to agree on a format. On 9 December 2013, the IIHF officially announced that they had launched a new tournament with the same name, born out of the European Trophy, starting in the 2014–15 season.
The 2014–15 season's regulation round will be played between 21 August 2014 and 7 October 2014. 44 clubs from twelve different European countries will participate in the season and be divided into eleven groups of four teams each. Each team will play a double round-robin in their group, for a total of 6 games per team. The eleven group winners as well as the top five group runners-up will qualify for the play-offs, which will begin on 4 November 2014 and end with the final on 4 February 2015. The play-offs will be played as a single-elimination tournament. In total, 161 games will be played (including the regulation round and play-offs). A draw taking place in Minsk, Belarus on 21 May 2014 will determine the groups.
44 clubs from the first-tier leagues of at least eight different European countries will participate each season. Teams can qualify for the tournament by obtaining either an A, B or C license.
A license: The 26 founding clubs are granted an "A license", provided that they play in the first-tier league of their respective system.
B license: Two teams—the top regular season team and the top playoff team in the previous season without an A license—from each of the founding leagues (Austrian EBEL, Czech Extraliga, Finnish Liiga, German DEL, Swiss NLA and Swedish SHL) will also participate. If these top teams are already founding clubs with A licenses, other teams from the league can take the B license spots. The order the B licenses will be handed out is:
Regular season winner
Runner-up, regular season
Best placed semifinal loser
Worst placed semifinal loser
If the leagues after that still don't reach their guaranteed number of places (EBEL: 4; DEL, NLA and Extraliga: 5; SHL and Liiga: 6) the third and fourth placed team in the regular season also can be considered.
European Trophy, a similar tournament played annually from 2006, disbanded after 2013. European Trophy is the precursor to Champions Hockey League. The names of all four recent European Trophy winners engraved in the Trophy.