The Champions Hockey League, Europe’s new club competition, will start in August 2014 and will crown the continent’s club champion in February 2015. It looks set to fill Europe’s ice arenas across the continent. In a unique structure for European ice hockey, the Champions Hockey League is a joint project between Europe’s professional clubs, their national leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation. The three principal stakeholders have formed a shareholder company based in Switzerland, where the clubs own 63 percent of the shares, the leagues 25 percent and the IIHF 12 percent. As part of the projected number of 40 participating clubs in the inaugural season, the Champions Hockey League will include a number of Wild Card entries, who are top clubs from other European national leagues. The list of the Founding Leagues and its Founding Clubs of the Champions Hockey League:
- 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.
- FINLAND (Liiga): IFK Helsinki, JYP Jyväskylä, KalPa Kuopio, Kärpät Oulu, Tappara Tampere, TPS Turku.
- GERMANY (DEL): Adler Mannheim, Eisbären Berlin, ERC Ingolstadt, Krefeld Pinguine.
- SWITZERLAND (NLA): SC Bern, Fribourg-Gottéron, ZSC Lions Zurich, EV Zug.
- SWEDEN (SHL): Djurgården Stockholm (currently playing in second-tier Allsvenskan), Frölunda Gothenburg, Färjestad Karlstad, HV71 Jönköping, Linköpings HC, Luleå Hockey.
Members from the principal stakeholders from the six countries form the Champions Hockey League board, which is the executive body of the league: Representing the Clubs: Anders Ternbom, SWE, chairman Petr Briza, CZE Timo Everi, FIN Peter John Lee, GER Peter Zahner, SUI Rupert Zamorsky, AUT The Leagues: Christian Feichtinger, AUT Gernot Tripcke, GER The IIHF: Kalervo Kummola, FIN CHL board member Gernot Tripcke, also General Manager of the German DEL, said:
This is a big step for European club ice hockey and the leagues. We are confident that with the unity we have around the Champions Hockey League, this will mean as much for the prestige for the national leagues and their clubs as corresponding leagues do for other sports like football, basketball and handball.
Pictured: Albert Eishalle, home of the UPC Vienna Capitals.