IIHF announces formation of 12-team Champions Hockey League in Europe

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the formation of the Champions Hockey League Sunday.

The Champions Hockey League will 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 CHL season will begin Oct. 8, 2008 and will have a total prize sum of 10 million Euros, the most substantial amount ever introduced in European club hockey. The CHL winner will receive one million Euro, the runner-up 500,000 Euro.

“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 in a statement.

The IIHF has reached a three-year agreement that will initially carry the Champions Hockey League over the 2010-2011 season.

READ ALSO:  Are replacement players a viable option?

“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 having 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 also meet an NHL-challenger each year in the new Victoria Cup.

The winner of the 2008 European Champions Cup (won by Metallurg in St. Petersburg 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.