Champions Hockey League to begin play in 2014

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The IIHF has announced that the Champions Hockey League will begin operation in August of 2014. The league will crown a European club champion in February.

The Champions Hockey League will begin competition in August of 2014 to crown Europe's club champion, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Monday morning.

The competition will feature the reigning national champions, the regular season champions from the six founding leagues, as well as 26 clubs from the founding leagues. Here is the list of founding clubs and leagues, via IIHF.com:

AUSTRIA (EBEL): EC Red Bull Salzburg, UPC Vienna Capitals.
CZECH REPUBLIC (Tipsport Extraliga): HC Bili Tygri Liberec, HC Pardubice, HC Sparta Prague, HC Vitkovice Ostrava.
FINLAND (Liiga): IFK Helsinki, JYP Jyväskylä, KalPa Kuopio, Kärpät Oulu, Tappara Tampere, TPS Turku.
GERMANY (DEL): Adler Mannheim, Eisbären Berlin, ERC Ingolstadt, Krefeld Pinguine. 
SWITZERLAND (NLA): SC Bern, Fribourg-Gottéron, ZSC Lions Zurich, EV Zug.
SWEDEN (SHL): Djurgården Stockholm (currently playing in second-tier Allsvenskan), Frölunda Gothenburg, Färjestad Karlstad, HV71 Jönköping, Linköpings HC, Luleå Hockey.

The Champions League is composed as a joint venture by the IIHF, the clubs and the leagues. The clubs own a 63 percent share of the venture, while the leagues hold 25 percent and the IIHF holds 12 percent.

While the goal is to crown Europe's club champion, the continent's largest league, the Kontinental Hockey League, will not be included in the competition. Rene Fasel, the IIHF president, stated that there were several reasons why the KHL opted not to join the venture and specifically cited Jokerit's decision to join the KHL from the Finnish League as a major stumbling block, via R-Sport:

"For sure they wanted to have Jokerit participating in the Champions Hockey League and that was refused by the board and that was one of the reasons why they didn't want to participate."

The Champions Hockey League is scheduled to crown its champion in February of 2015.

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