The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the formation of the Champions Hockey League. The Champions Hockey League will, in the inaugural 2008-2009 season, consist of the 12 best teams from Europe’s top seven countries competing from early October to late January and will on an annual basis crown the best team in Europe. The first playing day will be October 8, 2008.
The CHL will have a total prize sum of 10 million Euro, the by far most substantial amount ever introduced in European club hockey. The CHL winner will receive 1 million Euros, the runner-up 500,000 Euros.
“St. Petersburg is a city whose history and events have shaped the history of the world. Therefore, I am very pleased to announce that we yesterday evening reached an agreement that hopefully will shape the history of ice hockey,” said IIHF President René Fasel.
“This league has been made possible thanks to support from a group of international private investors including Russian energy giant Gazprom - all of them great enthusiasts of ice hockey,” said Fasel.
The IIHF has reached a three-year agreement that will initially carry the Champions Hockey League over the 2010-2011 season.
“Of course, it is our ambition that the CHL will be a permanent feature on the hockey calendar beyond 2011,” said Fasel.
As of the 2009-2010 season, the CHL will expand to 30 teams from 24 countries with two rounds of qualifications prior to the 12-team CHL-group stage.
The CHL must still be ratified by the seven participating national associations and their leagues, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The CHL-champion will, on an annual basis, meet an NHL-challenger in the new Victoria Cup. The date, venue and format will be announced later.
The winner of the 2008 ECC-final (played in St. Petersburg on Sunday) will be qualified for the inaugural Victoria Cup which will be played in autumn of 2008. The name of the NHL challenger club will be announced in the coming weeks.