Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The future of International Hockey Competitions...Is a Champions League finally here?

With the 2014 Sochi Olympics likely to be the last for the NHL, There is finally some though in re-establishing the World Cup of Hockey and a Champions League to determine the best club team in the world.

Here are my thoughts on the following competitions.

Olympic Hockey:

If the Olympics were to stay on the NHL's radar, I think the pro-leagues should follow soccer and only send  players that are under a certain age i.e. 24 and maybe have only 4 veterans i.e. 28+.  This could help balance the quality of play and may see some very interesting results.

World Cup of Hockey:

I think this tournament is long overdue in making a comeback.  I was never really a fan of the Olympics because professional players take all the limelight from the amateur athletes and other sports.  Ideally, I think the World Cup of hockey should be the NHL's main focus for international competition.  Again, look at what works i.e. FIFA

Champions League of Hockey:


Of the 3 main tournaments, this one excites me the most.  It's LONG OVERDUE and will definitely grow the game in Europe for the NHL and the European leagues.  I'm sure the logistics and timing of when this tournament happens is the biggest hurdle.  Not to mention, no league wants there clubs to look inferior.  But talks have begun, and it is the only way to make the NHL grow in European markets.

Lets look at the following scenarios:

Option A.
Based on last year, we can have the following teams in the tournament (I randomly picked the European champs, teams were selected for illustration purposes)

NHL - Chicago Black Hawks
Swedish Elite League - Modo
SM -  Liiga (Finish Elite League) - Jokerit
Czech ExtraLiga - HC Skoda
Swiss National League - HC Davos
DEL (German) - Hamburg
EEL (English Elite League) - Nottingham

  • Take champions from the 8 leagues from previous year championships. 
  • The tournament starts in preseason (September) and ends on December 31st.
  • Each team plays each other once between September and November
  • Playoffs is 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, etc... with 1 game knockout format in December
  • Final would be best of 3 ending on December 31st.  Or maybe even a 1 game final - "Champions Day"

Option B.
Since no one wants to see their champs lose to "inferior" leagues best, then:
  • Each league can run an internal tournament amongst their semi finalists from the previous year and the team with the best record of the 4 is champions league bound.
  • i.e.  take from the NHL Chicago, LA, Boston, and Pittsburgh
  • The 4 teams play each other 2 times during the regular season and the team with the best record qualifies to the Champions League Tournament and would follow the format as in Option A (in this example with Pittsburgh qualifying). 
  • This internal mini tournament could also occur for the other leagues to preserve their stature.

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