Starting with the 2017–18 season, a new competitive format will be introduced by the Champions Hockey League. Fewer teams and a qualification system which is based on sporting merits only will improve the quality of the league.
The 33 shareholders of the Champions Hockey League (26 clubs, 6 leagues and the IIHF) voted at the General Assembly meeting in Berlin for the introduction of a new playing format for the 2017–18 season and beyond.
The new format as of 2017–18
- 32 teams from 13 countries,
- Teams can only qualify on sporting merits,
- No founding club shall automatically be granted playing rights,
- A maximum of 5 teams per country,
- The CHL Champion of the previous season is automatically qualified for the next CHL season. However, this will not grant one extra spot for the league of the CHL winner.
Participating leaguesAs things currently stand, the Champions Hockey League is prepared to play the 2017–18 season with the same participating leagues as in the upcoming 2016–17 season. However, one of the CHL’s biggest challenges going forward remains bringing the KHL on board. Should the KHL join the league, the total number of teams will stay at 32 and the numbers from founding and challenge leagues will need to be reduced.
How to qualify for the CHLAs previously pointed out, teams will have to earn their place in the CHL on the ice, starting with the 2017–18 season. Teams must reach one of the following criteria in order to become a CHL contestant:
- CHL Champion
- National / League Champion
- Regular season winner
- Regular season runner-up
- Playoff finalist
- Higher-ranked remaining playoff semi-finalist, based on regular-season finish
CHL rankingsAs of the inaugural season 2014–15, the CHL is ranking the leagues and teams based on their achievements during each CHL season. These rankings will determine the number of teams per league entitled to play in the CHL. For the 2017–18 season, the rankings will be based on the first three CHL seasons and the results valued as follows:
In the CHL rankings, the six founding leagues will remain ranked 1–6 and all non-founding leagues will follow in accordance. Positions within the rankings may still vary from season to season based on the teams’ respective performances.
Consequently, the upcoming 2016–17 CHL season is very important for the clubs to collect points for the CHL rankings and to help their leagues obtain as many CHL spots for the 2017–18 season as possible.
After two CHL seasons (2014–15 and 2015–16) the CHL ranking looks as follows. Please note that the rankings might change depending on the performance of the clubs during the 2016–17 season.
Competition formatStarting with the 2017–18 season, a total of 125 games will be played over the course of 13 game days. Four teams in each of the eight groups will battle in the Group Stage for playoff spots. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Round of 16.
With the exception of the Final, all match-ups in the Playoff Stage will be two-game, home-and-away series. This aspect stays unchanged from the current format.