December 2, 2022

IIHF – New format for the CHL

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At the Extraordinary General Meeting held on Friday, November 4 in Zug, Switzerland, Champions Hockey League shareholders voted in favor of introducing a new competition format from next season 2023/24.

While it had already been decided two years prior that the pan-European competition would become more exclusive by reducing the number of participating teams to 24 (currently 32), the detailed setup of the format was still being worked out.

With the scientific help of competition design experts, the CHL has now presented a tailored format that emphasizes competitive balance and maximizes the attractiveness and entertainment of club ice hockey competition. elite in Europe.

What changes will the 2023/24 edition bring?

The basic structure of a regular season (formerly called the group stage) followed by playoffs has worked for the CHL and will continue to do so. However, the configuration of the regular season will undergo two fundamental changes:

  • Teams play six different opponents in the regular season instead of just three (teams play each other only once).
  • Teams are ranked overall from 1 to 24 instead of groups.

Therefore, the top 16 ranked teams will advance to the Playoffs. The format of the Playoffs remains unchanged.

How will regular season matches be drawn?

To draw regular season matches, teams will be split into four pots comprising six teams each – similar to the structure currently in place. The ranking depends on the teams’ achievements in their national leagues and the respective league’s position in the CHL league standings. Each team is then drawn against six opponents by drawing two opponents from each of the other three pots. The teams will play one team per pot at home and the other away. The result of each match will combine to form the overall ranking (from 1st to 24th). The points format currently in place will remain unchanged, meaning three points are awarded for a win, if a game ends in overtime or a shootout the teams split the points 2-1.

How will the Playoffs go?

Just like in the current format, the playoffs begin with the round of 16 and all rounds will be played in a two-game, home-and-away series, except for the final. However, the playoff draw is no longer necessary as teams will compete based on overall standings (1st vs. 16th, 2nd vs. 15th, etc.).

What are the main benefits?

  • More opportunities for fans to see Europe’s top teams go head-to-head earlier in the competition.
  • Every game counts. Teams will fight for every point to help them climb the overall ladder until the very last matchday – either to qualify for the Playoffs or to get into a better position for the knockout bracket.
  • Clubs and players will have the opportunity to prove themselves against a wider range of top-flight opponents.

How are seats allocated?

The six shareholder leagues will take 18 places in the new format, evenly distributed to three representatives each. The teams will qualify in their national leagues on sporting merits according to the following criteria:

  1. National champions
  2. Regular season winners
  3. Regular Season Finalists
  4. Third in the regular season

Defending CHL champions automatically qualify for the next CHL season, granting their league an additional qualifying spot. The minimum of participating countries is set at 11 and therefore five Wild Card teams from the Challenger Leagues will be part of the CHL. The allocation of Wild Cards is subject to Board approval for each season and will be decided at a later date.

Lengwiler elected new board member

Also at the Extraordinary General Meeting, CHL shareholders elected Patrick Lengwiler as a new member of the Board of Directors. The CEO of EV Zug represents the Swiss founding clubs on the CHL Board of Directors and succeeded outgoing board member Peter Zahner, who had served since the competition’s very launch in 2014/ 15 (also CHL President for four years).

As Zahner was elected in June 2021 for a three-year term, Lengwiler took over for the next 1.5 years of his term until the next election for the full CHL Board of Directors in June 2024. The Champions Hockey League thanks Peter Zahner for his great commitment and tireless work for European club ice hockey during his tenure on the Board.

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