Thursday, August 11, 2011

European Trophy starts Thursday

The European Trophy, a 24-team, six-nation pre-season tournament kicks off on Thursday, with three Czech teams in action against Swedish opponents.

Pardubice fans will get a chance to see Jan Hlaváč
suit up for visiting Linköpings on Thursday.
Two open at home: Sparta Praha hosts Jönköping-based HV71 at Tesla Arena, while cumbersomely-named ČSOB Pojišťovna Pardubice take to the ice at ČEZ Arena against Linköpings HC, whose roster includes ex-Sparta players Jan Hlaváč and Jaroslav Hlinka. Slavia Praha, meanwhile, travels to Stockholm to take on Djurgårdens IF.

"The players feel that this competition is on a different level. The European Trophy is something else," said Pardubice general manager Zbyněk Kusý, comparing the tournament to normal pre-season games. "I'm sure it will be something different than we were accustomed to when playing with a team from the Extraliga or First League, where the main goal before the season is to avoid injury. This will be more competitive, a chance to test ourselves against European clubs, so it will surely be an attractive sporting event."

For now, the European Trophy is only a pre-season tournament, but there are rumours that member clubs would like to see it grow into more. That could possibly mean as inter-league competition that would complement existing national leagues, or as an entirely separate entity that would become the top tier of hockey in Europe and compete with the Russian-based KHL for top talent.

The European Trophy is not affiliated with the IIHF. The sport's world governing body tried to re-launch the Champions Hockey League last season, but that attempt was aborted due to ongoing disputes with clubs and leagues over its 2009 termination.

More information, including the schedule and how to follow games live can be found at the tournament's website,

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