The National Hockey League today announced a marketing alliance with the Champions Hockey League (CHL), the newly formed European club championship under the authority of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The CHL began play on October 8, 2008, in 12 European cities. Based on early success, the pan-European league is already scheduled to expand to 22 countries for next season.
Following the NHL's participation in September's Victoria Cup, a pre-season tournament in Berne, Switzerland, which featured the New York Rangers and two CHL clubs, the two leagues began discussing further cooperation on various marketing initiatives which has led to the new alliance.
The leagues have agreed to form a working group to look at the future of the Victoria Cup, explore other competition formats between the leagues, create joint promotional and sales efforts and develop other cooperative initiatives to foster growth in hockey across North America, Europe and worldwide.
“We welcome the opportunity to help the Champions Hockey League with all aspects of business development," said Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner. "We have watched the initial success of the CHL, and the format and infrastructure that have been established provide a good foundation for the growth of international hockey.”
“The IIHF and the NHL have had a prosperous relationship for the last 15 years, with regards to the Olympics, the IIHF World Championship, the World Cup of Hockey and lately also the Victoria Cup,” IIHF President René Fasel said. ”With the growth of international club hockey and the NHL’s 90 years of experience of running the most successful hockey league in the world, a marketing alliance between the NHL and the CHL has a potential to develop into something very substantial.”
"Everyone in Europe has tremendous respect for the NHL. We are very pleased to open this cooperation and believe that European hockey will benefit from the NHL's great experience. Our goal is to expand and develop the game of club hockey in Europe and the NHL will be a very valuable partner," said Craig Thompson, the CEO of Ovation Sports AG. Ovation Sports is the agency responsible for the management of the CHL.