Champions Hockey League

Champions Hockey League
Champions Hockey League
Most recent season or competition:
2008–09 Champions Hockey League
CHL logo.png
Sport Ice Hockey
Founded 2008
Commissioner Craig Thompson[1]
Inaugural season 2008
No. of teams 12 (group stage)
14 (total)
Country(ies) Multiple in Europe
Ceased 2009
Last champion(s) Switzerland ZSC Lions (1)
TV partner(s) Europe: various
USA: Universal Sports
CAN: The Score
Related competitions Victoria Cup
Official website

The Champions Hockey League was a short-lived ice hockey league which was launched in 2008 by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and only played in the 2008–09 season. Its creation coincided with the IIHF's 100th anniversary and replaced the IIHF European Champions Cup, the former competition for Europe's top ice hockey teams.[2] The financial reward for progressing to the CHL Group Stage was a portion of the 16.9 million Swiss francs that was distributed between the teams with a 1,000,000 Swiss francs[3] bonus going to the winner; the largest monetary reward ever given in any European ice hockey competition.[2]

The Silver Stone Trophy, which has been awarded to the top club team in European hockey since 1997, was the CHL's championship trophy. Because of problems with finding sponsors, failure to agree on a format, and lack of further interest from professional leagues around the world, the Champions Hockey League was cancelled after only one season had been played.



Map of teams which have reached the group stage of the Champions Hockey League
  Member country that has been represented in the group stage
  Member country that has not been represented in the group stage
  Not a member

The Champions Hockey League was planned to be contested among 24 European national club champions and the runner-ups of the best six hockey leagues. However, for the first season, a shortened version was agreed upon with a group stage with 12 teams, the champions of the best seven leagues and a second team from each of the best four leagues. The second teams from the leagues placed 5–7, played a qualification tournament over one weekend to determine the twelfth and final participant of the Champions Hockey League.

The following table based on the 2008 IIHF League Ranking[4] gives an overview over the qualifiaction process. Because of the cancellation after the first season, the lower ranked leagues never participated in the Champions Hockey League.

 Russia Kontinental Hockey League Two teams in the 2008-2009 CHL
 Finland SM-liiga
 Czech Republic Czech Extraliga
 Sweden Elitserien
 Slovakia Slovak Extraliga One team guaranteed in the 2008-2009 CHL + one possible qualifier
 Switzerland National League A
 Germany Deutsche Eishockey Liga
 Belarus Belarusian Hockey League Teams from these leagues would have participated in later season of the CHL.
 Latvia Latvian Hockey League
 Denmark Oddset Ligaen
 Austria Austrian Hockey League
 Kazakhstan Kazakhstani Championship
 Great Britain Elite Ice Hockey League
 Norway GET-ligaen
 France Ligue Magnus
 Slovenia Slovenian Hockey League
 Italy Serie A
 Hungary OB I bajnokság
 Poland Polska Liga Hokejowa
 Netherlands Eredivisie
 Ukraine Ukrainian Hockey League
 Romania Liga Naţională de hochei


The CHL was broadcast across Europe on various national TV networks, as well as on the Internet.
It could also be watched regularly in some extra-European markets. Universal Sports (part of the NBC Universal group) was the league's broadcaster in the United States, while The Score held the Canadian rights. [5]

2008–09 Season

Because of the limited preparation time, the first (and only) edition was played with only 12 teams from the top seven leagues in Europe. The four top leagues (Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland) were represented with two teams each. The leagues ranked 5-7 (Slovakia, Switzerland and Germany) were represented with one team. A second team from Switzerland (SC Bern), qualified for the main stage by winning a qualifying tournament which was held in September.[6]

The main phase of the CHL consisted of 4 groups with 3 teams each that played home and away games against the two other teams in the group, with the 4 group winners advancing to the semi-finals. In the first semi-final the two Russian teams Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa played against each other. After both teams won one game, a penalty shoot-out had to decide. Magnitogorsk was luckier and advanced to the final. In the other semi-final, the Swiss ZSC Lions played against Finnish team Espoo Blues. ZSC won both games and qualified for the final.

The first game of the final was played in Magnitogorsk and ended in a 2–2 draw. The decisive second game was played in Rapperswil, Switzerland and won 5–0 by the ZSC Lions which became the first and also last Champions Hockey League winners.


The IIHF officially announced on 15 June 2009 the cancellation of the Champions Hockey League for the 2009–10 season, but that it would possibly be resumed in the 2010–11 season, with the possible contribution of the NHL.[7] The continuation of the league was already called into question in January when the main sponsor, Gazprom, as well as Reebok, pulled out of their commitments to sponsor the league for three seasons.[8] Conflict with the NHL also arose, whereby the European sponsors led by Gazprom were willing to fund 50–60% of the league and control, whereas the NHL offered to fund up to 60%, but wanted full control of the league's operations.

Some teams were considering legal actions against IIHF for the cancellation of the CHL, because "the clubs have blocked out game dates and C.H.L. participation in their budget-planning consideration", as Gernot Tripcke, the general manager of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), said.[9]

On 21 October 2009, the IIHF announced an agreement with Hockey Europe to re-launch the CHL during the 2010–11 season, with teams from the 7 top European leagues (although the agreement was cancelled later, see below). Included in the agreement was to be a settlement that would've compensated the clubs that qualified for the cancelled 2009–10 edition.[10]

On 25 November 2009, Ovation Sports AG, the organization behind the Champions Hockey League, announced that they were discontinuing their efforts and that the league would not continue.[11]

On 9 March 2010, the IIHF announced that they and the European leagues failed to agree on a re-launch of the Champions Hockey League. Therefore, there were no CHL during the 2010–11 season.[12] Thus, the CHL has probably been permanently cancelled.

On 6 December 2010, the IIHF announced that they were "..inviting Europe’s top clubs to a repeat of 2009 success". The IIHF Council approved the re-launch of the Champions Hockey League for the 2011–12 season, with the overall planned length of the approved project of 3 seasons.[13] However, on 23 February 2011, the IIHF announced that the Council had decided to postpone the plans for a re-launch of the CHL in the 2011–12 season, due to lack of interest from professional leagues.[14]

Victoria Cup

It was planned that every year, the Champions Hockey League winner and one team from the National Hockey League play for the IIHF-run Victoria Cup.[15] The first edition in 2008 was won by the New York Rangers who beat the IIHF European Champions Cup winners from the previous season, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The second edition in 2009 saw the ZSC Lions defeating the Chicago Blackhawks.


  1. ^ Ovation/CHL contacts,
  2. ^ a b "Champions Hockey League launch planned for 08-09". Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  3. ^ € 617.087 or $ 904.650 on February 4, 2008.
  4. ^ "Russian league tops first CHL ranking". Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  5. ^ "Official List of Champions Hockey League Broadcasters". Retrieved 2008-12-28. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Europe's new Club Competition". Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  7. ^ "CHL to re-launch in 2010–11". IIHF. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "IIHF Pulls the Plug; European Hockey Clubs Consider Legal Action". International 2009-06-15.;-European-Hockey-Clubs-Consider-Legal-Action/. 
  10. ^ "Agreed: Bring back CHL!". IIHF. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  11. ^ Ovation Sports announcement discontinuing the CHL,
  12. ^ CHL re-launch scratched 2010-03-09
  13. ^ Ready for CHL re-launch 2010-12-06
  14. ^ "CHL plans postponed". IIHF. 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  15. ^ "IIHF announces NHL-European Victoria Cup". Retrieved 2007-05-22. 

External links

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