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IIHF re-establishes ‘Champions’ League,’ but NHL, KHL won’t participate

The IIHF and KHL have been pushing for a "Champions' League" that would include the NHL playing against Europe's respective professional hockey leagues' champions for an over-arching hockey championship trophy, but as the NHL isn't interested in suggesting that the Stanley Cup isn't hockey's ultimate prize, it appears that the IIHF and its European stakeholders have chosen to move forward without the NHL...

The Champions Hockey League, Europe’s new premium club competition, will start in August 2014 and will crown the continent’s club champion in February 2015.

Apart from the reigning national champions and the regular season winners from each of the six Founding Leagues, 26 Founding Clubs representing the top historic brands and most successful teams of their respective countries in the past and today will compete for the European Trophy. After a projected 149-game Champions Hockey League schedule the winner will be hoisting the cup, named after the competition the new C.H.L. emerged from.

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.

And the press release continues, but here's where things gets interesting, via the New York Times' Jeff Z. Klein--because the league that really was the IIHF's co-sponsor in its Champions' League push won't be involved with this endeavor:

The Russian Hockey Federation's historically stated that it hoped that the Gargarin Cup would eventually serve as the trophy won by the Champions league's best team, but I'm not sure why it's not participating--and no KHL participation yields the world's most prosperous oil and natural gas corporations (and some of the world's heaviest economic hitters) not taking part in sponsorship opportunities.

Especially given how very, very hard KHL president Alexander Medvedev has pushed for a revival of the Champions League format, it's absolutely baffling that the KHL is completely absent from this endeavor.

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The IIHF and KHL have been pushing for a “Champions’ League” that would include the NHL playing against Europe’s respective professional hockey leagues’ champions for an over-arching hockey championship trophy, but as the NHL isn’t interested in suggesting that the Stanley Cup isn’t hockey’s ultimate prize, it appears that the IIHF and its European stakeholders have chosen to move forward without the NHL

The IIHF and KHL have been pushing…but the KHL isn’t participating? Or the NHL isn’t participating? Or both? Then why is the KHL (along with IIHF) pushing????

Posted by VitoLambruski on 12/09/13 at 12:24 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

^^ It was a little confusing…headline and text didn’t align all that clearly, but the answer is both: neither the KHL or NHL are participating.

From the link -

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.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 12/09/13 at 12:34 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I tried to clarify things to some extent. It’s stunning that the KHL isn’t taking part.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 12/09/13 at 12:38 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Duhatschek tweet,

Likely, IIHF views new Champions League as a necessary first step for a true world-wide Stanley Cup competition. NHL may see it differently.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 12/09/13 at 01:00 PM ET


I think the nhl is missing a vital area to exploit here.  If there is worldwide participating in winning the Stanley cup, perhaps more players will grow up wanting to win that instead of Olympic gold, thus likely leading more Europeans to want to win the Stanley cup and join the nhl!

Posted by HiZObane on 12/09/13 at 02:00 PM ET


I don’t think it is stunning the KHL is not participating. It was The KHL, through Medvedev’s Gazprom sponsorship, that pulled the plug in the original tournament after 1 season. The KHL probably views a champions league style tournament as an block on their KHL expansion plans outside of Eastern Europe.

I believe as a result of the original Champions hockey league falling apart the some of the Scandinavian and central europe created the European Trophy. Based on this release (and iihf release are never clear) it looks like that tournament is being reformatted into the new Champions Hockey League.

Posted by jkrdevil on 12/09/13 at 05:52 PM ET


The NHL should submit the President’s Trophy winner as the NHL participant, unless they win the Cup, then the number 2 team should go. That way it doesn’t undermine the Stanley Cup, but still provides a great team to the Champions League. Of course this would all have to happen after the SC Final.

Posted by timbits on 12/09/13 at 11:17 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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