Six leagues, 26 clubs, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) launched the Champions Ice Hockey League back in the 2014/2015 season. The tournament now features the top-ranking teams from the main leagues of countries in Europe.
Background of Champions Ice Hockey League
The tournament was first launched in 2008 with the same name. It coincided with the 100th anniversary of the IIHF. Only one tournament was played after this launch, which took place between October 2008 and January 2009. The ZSC won the competition. The difficulty in finding sponsors caused by disagreements in the tournament format and global economic crisis is what led to the cancellation of the following season. A new tournament was then formed in 2014, which has been running season after season to date.
The number of teams participating in the league used to be 48 but was reduced to 32 in the last season. Qualifications are based only on sporting merits. Contrary to how it used to be, the founding clubs are no longer guaranteed a spot in the competition. Each country can have a maximum of five teams participating in the competition, with a coefficient system used to allot the entries for each country. Eight slots are reserved for the champions of the French, British, Slovakian, Norwegian, Belarusian, Polish, and Danish league champions, as well as for the continental champions.
All the teams are divided into eight groups, determined by a draw. Each group has four teams, and the top two teams after the first round get to advance to the knockout stages. The league then continues in two-legged ties until the finals.
Teams are ranked in the league based on the points that they have. The total points collected by all the teams in a specified league are summed up and divided by the total number of teams participating in the league to determine the league’s coefficient for the year.