Thursday, February 24, 2011

Champions League postponed (again)

The IIHF has decided, for the third year in a row, to allow the Champions Hockey League to remain dormant.

In November, the federation submitted a proposal for the re-launch of the league, which was suspended following an initial successful season in 2008-09. The reason for the suspension was a lack of sponsors, due to the global economic crisis.

Oceláři Třinec won this year's President's Cup for finishing first
place. Unfortunately, there is no Champions League for them to
advance to. Photo: Marian Ježowicz,
Though they did not specify which leagues were against the plan, they did say that "the majority of the leagues were not in favour of accepting the IIHF’s offer for a re-launch for the 2011-2012 season." Many of Europe's top hockey leagues, including the Czech Extraliga, were not happy that the IIHF decided to cancel the two remaining seasons on its three-year contract, and demanded financial compensation. Apparently, the latest re-launch plan did not adequately satisfy those demands.

Had the competition gone ahead under the plan proposed by the IIHF, HC Oceláři Třinec would have been guaranteed a spot in the 16-team league, by virtue of finishing first place in the Extraliga's regular season. The playoff winner would have also qualified.

Ultimately, the losers of this latest failure are the hockey fans of Europe, who are left without any top-level interleague competition.

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