Champions Hockey League
|Current season, competition or edition:
2015–16 Champions Hockey League
Champions Hockey League (2008–09)
|Claim to fame||EICC|
|No. of teams||48|
|Country||At least 8, in Europe|
|Most titles||Luleå Hockey (1) Frölunda HC (1)|
|Qualification||Top teams in first-tier leagues|
|TV partner(s)||Austria: LAOLA1.tv (online livestream)
Central America: TD Centro
Czech Republic: SlovakSport.TV
France: L'Équipe 21
Germany: Sport1 (TV) and LAOLA1.tv (online livestream)
Great Britain: Premier Sports
Mexico: Televisa Deportes Network
South America: ESPN and DirecTV
Switzerland: SRG SSR and Teleclub
USA: ONE World Sports and Univision Deportes Network
The Champions Hockey League is a European ice hockey tournament launched by 26 clubs, 6 leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which started in the 2014–15 season. The tournament features several teams from the first-tier leagues of at least six countries in Europe.
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 was played between 21 August and 7 October 2014. 44 clubs from 12 different European countries participated in the season, divided into 11 groups of four teams each. A draw took place in Minsk, Belarus, on 21 May 2014 to determine the groups. Each team played a double round-robin in their group, for a total of 6 games per team. The 11 group winners as well as the top five group runners-up qualified for the playoffs, which began on 4 November and ended with the final on 4 February 2015. The playoffs were as a single-elimination tournament, with all rounds leading to the final played in two-game, home-and-away, total-goal series. The final was a single game. In total, 161 games were played, including the group and playoff stages.
For the 2015–16 season, the tournament has been expanded to 48 teams, divided into 16 groups with three teams in each group. The two first teams in each group advanced to the playoff round of 32. The 48 teams consisted of the 26 founding A-licence clubs, 12 B-licensed clubs from the founding leagues, and 10 C-licensed "Wild card" teams from other leagues. The champions from Norway, Denmark, Slovakia, France and the United Kingdom, like the previous season, received wild card berths. From Slovakia, Norway, France and the United Kingdom, a second team also received a wild card berth. One wild card license was also assigned to 2014–15 IIHF Continental Cup winner HK Neman Grodno.
From the 2015-16 season, 48 clubs from the first-tier leagues of at least ten different European countries will participate. 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:
- National champion
- Regular season winner
- Runner-up, regular season
- Play-off finalist
- 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.
- C license: The rest of the places will go to "wild card" teams, from European first-tier leagues other than the founding ones. The C license teams will be drawn from amongst the champions of the IIHF Continental Cup, Elite Ice Hockey League (United Kingdom), GET-ligaen (Norway), Ligue Magnus (France), Metal Ligaen (Denmark), and Slovak Extraliga (Slovakia).
Starting in the 2017-18 season, the CHL format will be drastically revamped to largely mirror the UEFA Champions League. The total number of teams will be reduced from 48 to 32, with 24 of the entries coming from the six founding leagues and all berths earned through on-ice achievement: no longer will the "founding clubs" be guaranteed a place in the competition. A maximum of five teams from each country are permitted, with the entries allotted to each country according to a coefficient system. The remaining eight places will be given to the champions of the Norwegian, Slovakian, French, Belorussian, Danish, British and Polish leagues, as well as the champion of the Continental Cup. The teams will then be drawn into eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stage, which will be contested as two-legged ties until a one-match final.
The winner of the Competition will receive the “European Trophy”.
- 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 are engraved in the Trophy.
- "Staff". Champions Hockey League.
- "Semi-final referees and TV listings: Brazil among countries to watch CHL!". Champions Hockey League.
- "SRG and Teleclub gain exclusive CHL broadcasting rights in Switzerland". Champions Hockey League.
- "New broadcast agreements in Germany and Austria on SPORT1 and LAOLA1.tv". Champions Hockey League.
- "New era dawns for Europe". International Ice Hockey Federation.
- "Ready for takeoff". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2014-02-27.
- "CHL to play with 48 teams in 2015–16". Champions Hockey League. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- "Norge får to plasser i Champions Hockey League" (in Norwegian). TV2. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "V Lige majstrov bude mať Slovensko od sezóny 2015/2016 dvoch zástupcov" (in Slovak). Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "Neman wins Continental Cup". IIHF. 10 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "HC Neman Grodno to play in 2015-16 CHL season". Belarus News (BelTA). 5 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
- "CHL: Ny era i europeisk klubbhockey". difhockey.se (in Swedish). Djurgårdens IF Hockey. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
- Qualifikationskriterien für die Champions Hockey League
- New clubs join CHL
- "Sex nya lag klara för Champions League – så ser Växjös chanser ut" (in Swedish). Hockeysverige.se. 2014-03-26.
- "Belarus’ Neman Grodno marks CHL foray into Eastern Europe". Champions Hockey League. 2015-02-19.