ZURICH – HC Ceske Budejovice (CZE) and Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS) are the first teams to have secured a place among the twelve teams that will make up the inaugural edition of the 2008-2009 Champions Hockey League, Europe’s prime club hockey competition that will determine the club champion of Europe.
Sweden’s HV71 Jonkoping will become the third team, barring a complete meltdown in the final games of the regular season. HV71 leads the Swedish league by a whopping 14 points with only six games remaining. One win by HV71 and one loss by second placed MODO Ornskoldsvik is enough the secure the regular season win and CHL participation by the club from Jonkoping. This could be the case as early as Tuesday.
HC Ceske Budejovice has already won the regular season of the Czech Extraliga on 106 points. Runner-up Slavia Prague had 98. Metallurg Magnitogorsk is directly seeded to the CHL as the reigning European champion, having captured the European Champions Cup in January in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Slovan Bratislava (regular season winner in Slovakia) and SC Bern (regular season winner in Switzerland) have secured at least a spot in the three-team qualification tournament which will be played in the autumn of 2008 to determine the 12th and last team in the Champions Hockey League. The CHL group stage will consist of four groups with three teams each. The winner of each group will qualify for the semi-final.
This is how the 12-team 2008-2009 CHL will be stocked:
- Four countries, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden, will each have two teams in the CHL: the national champion (playoff winner) and the winner of the regular season (league standing).
- Three countries, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland will each have one team on the CHL. One additional team from one of the three countries will reach the CHL through the qualification tournament.
- Basic formula: If the national champion and the regular season winner is the same team, then the second team in the regular season standings will earn a spot in the CHL. Example: If Ceske Budejovice also wins the Czech league playoffs then the second placed team in the regular season (Slavia Prague) will be the second Czech representative in the CHL.
- There will be two exceptions from the above formula in the inaugural 2008-2009 CHL season. 1. Finland will be represented by the two finalists in the 2008 Finnish SM-Liiga playoffs. 2. Russia’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk is directly qualified to the 2008-2009 CHL as the reigning European club champion (winner of the 2008 European Champions Cup). The second Russian club will either be the national champion or the regular season winner. Both countries’ leagues will comply with the principle representation rules starting in 2009-2010.
- The national champions from Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland will earn direct qualification to the CHL while the regular season winner from these countries will earn a place in the qualification. If the national champion and the regular season winner is the same team, then the same rule as above applies. Example: If regular season winner SC Bern also wins the Swiss national championship then SCB is directly qualified to the CHL, while the team which finished second in the regular season (Servette Geneva) goes to the qualification tournament.
Date and venue for the qualification tournament will be determined when the participating clubs will be known after the conclusion of the respective regular seasons in the three countries. The latest date for a final playoff game in any of Europe’s top-7 leagues is April 22.
Qualification format: Round-robin, one game per day on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The first placed team will earn a spot in the 2008-2009 Champions Hockey League. Example of schedule: Friday: GER-SVK, Saturday: SVK-SUI, Sunday: SUI-GER.
The Champions Hockey League will be expanded to include champions from the top 22 European leagues for the 2009-2010 season. The group stage, with 12 teams, will remain the same.
The teams in the run for CHL spots in the top seven European leagues:
Czech Republic, final standings: 1. HC Ceske Budejovice 106 (regular season winner), 2. Slavia Prague 98, 3. Bili Tygri Liberec 91, 4. HC Karlovy Vary 85, 5. HC Litvinov 80, 6. Sparta Prague 79, 7. HC Trinec 78, 8. HC Kladno 77.
Finland (52 of 56 rounds played, 10 playoff participants): 1. Karpat Oulu 113, 2. Espoo Blues 106, 3. Jokerit Helsinki 98, 4. Tappara Tampere 95, 5. Pelicans Lahti 95, 6. JYP Jyvaskyla 90, 7. HIFK Helsinki 85, 8. Ilves Tampere 81, 9. Lukko Rauma 68, 10. TPS Turku 63, 11. SaiPa Lappeenranta 59.
Germany (51-53 of 56 rounds played, 10 playoff participants): 1. Nurnberg Ice Tigers 52/107, 2. Eisbaren Berlin 52/104, 3. Kolner Haie 53/103, 4. Frankfurt Lions 52/94, 5. Adler Mannheim 51/87, 6. Iserlohn Roosters 52/84, 7. ERC Ingolstadt 53/80, 8. DEG Metro Stars (Dusseldorf) 53/79, 9. Hannover Scorpions 51/78, 10. Krefeld Pinguine 52/73, 11. Hamburg Freezers 51/72, 12. Augsburger Panther 52/67.
Russia (54 of 57 rounds played, 16 playoff participants): 1. Salaval Yulayev Ufa 116, 2. Metallurg Magnitogorsk 110, 3. CSKA Moscow 101, 4. Khimik Moscow Region 99, 5. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 99, 6. SKA St. Petersburg 97, 7. Ak Bars Kazan 96, 8. Avangard Omsk 82, 9. Dynamo Moscow 79, 10. MVD Moscow Region 76, 11. Lada Togliatti 74, 12. Severstal Cherepovets 72, 13. Spartak Moscow 71, 14. Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk 71, 15. Traktor Chelyabinsk 71, 16. Amur Khabarovsk 66, 17. Metallurg Novokuznetsk 66, 18. Vityaz Podolsk 64, 19. Sibir Novosibirsk 58.
Slovakia, final standings: 1. Slovan Bratislava 96 (regular season winner), 2. Dukla Trencin 80, 3. MHC Martin 76, 4. HKM Zvolen 75, 5. HC Kosice 73, 6. SKP Poprad 68, 7. HK 36 Skalica 63, 8. MHK Kezmarok.
Sweden (49 of 55 rounds played, 8 playoff participants): 1. HV 71 Jonkoping 98, 2. MODO Ornskoldsvik 84, 3. Farjestad Karlstad 80, 4. Linkopings HC 78, 5. Frolunda Gothenburg 74, 6. Timra IK 74, 7. Djurgarden Stockholm 73, 8. Skelleftea AIK 63, 9. Sodertalje SK 62, 10. Lulea HF 57, 11. Mora IK 57, 12. Brynas Gavle 54.
Switzerland, final standings: 1. SC Bern 111 (regular season winner), 2. Servette Geneva 89, 3. Kloten Flyers 87, 4. EV Zug 86, 5. HC Davos 84, 6. ZSC Lions 81, 7. Rapperswil-Jona Lakers 76, 8. HC Fribourg-Gottéron 70.