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European team to meet NHL team for exhibition series in 2008

IIHF President Rene Fasel is scheduled to make the announcement Tuesday during a news conference at the IIHF World Hockey Championship. The series will take place in September 2008.

Ideally, the IIHF would like to have the Stanley Cup champion meet a European champion but that won't be the case for the first event. One NHL team will be selected ahead of time for the inaugural event in 2008.

It's one of several things the IIHF has planned to celebrate its 100th year anniversary. Another is bringing the world championship to Canada for the first time as Quebec City and Halifax are hosting the competition next spring.

The IIHF knows that it is not being promised the Stanley Cup winner in 2008 but has requested the NHL champion starts participating in the annual series starting in the fall of 2009. The NHL has yet to make a decision on that, but it appears unlikely.

Some believe this is the first step in what would be a long process that could lead to having European teams one day compete for the Stanley Cup.

Last month, Fasel proposed a Champions League format that would pit the top club teams in Europe against each other in a tournament similar to soccer's Champions League.

He said then that he'd like to have it in place to coincide with the IIHF's centennial anniversary.

"This is a vision that we have had for quite some time and started to work actively on for several months," Fasel said at the time. "There are still details to be ironed out, but we are sure that we have a financial and sportive foundation that will imply a new era for European club hockey and club hockey worldwide."

A prize pool of C$15 million would go to teams that make the final bracket and a bonus of C$929,300 would be paid to the European winner.

Fasel also said then that the IIHF had already been through preliminary discussions with the NHL about an annual exhibition series.

"This is something that we have been trying to make feasible for years and finally we believe that together with our partner NHL we have a concept for an annual September showdown," he said.

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