International Ice Hockey Federation

CHL invites Poland

CHL invites Poland

Conditional wild card for 2016/17

Published 23.04.2015 12:47 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk / Derek O’Brien
CHL invites Poland
On the podium from left to right: the Champions Hockey League’s Szymon Szemberg and Martin Baumann, and Polish Ice Hockey Federation President Dawid Chwalka. Photo: Martin Merk
The Champions Hockey League met with representatives of the Polish Ice Hockey Federation and clubs in view of the 2016/2017 CHL season.

The Champions Hockey League, which will have 48 clubs from 12 leagues play for the CHL European Trophy next season, may expand to Poland in a little more than a year as this country’s league may receive a wild card for its national champion – providing there is visible progress in the Polish league and especially among its top teams.

“Hockey has a great tradition in Poland. We know that Polish hockey has potential both sport-wise and commercially. This amazing building [Tauron Arena Krakow] and the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A confirm this,” said Martin Baumann, the CEO of the Champions Hockey League.

“We want to contribute to the growth of Polish hockey by extending a conditional wild card for the season 2016/17. The decision whether there will be a Wild Card for Poland will be made during the next season and the board of the Champions Hockey League will monitor the progress.”

Asked by journalists about what the conditions are, Baumann replied that he’s impressed with the infrastructure, so it’s more about reaching a certain level of hockey because the CHL is the league where top teams play and as Baumann put it “the hockey community expects from us that the CHL games are competitive. The sportive integrity of our league is at stake.”

The Polish league PHL was played this season with ten teams. GKS Tychy beat JKH Jastrzebie 4-2 in the final series.

Warsaw-born Szymon Szemberg, the CHL’s COO and Communications Director, addressed the Polish media in their own language:

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“The performance of the Polish champion GKS Tychy in the upcoming IIHF Continental Cup in January 2016 will be the first very important indicator about the progress of Polish club hockey,” said Szemberg.

“Although we know that the Polish top clubs will now start a race to upgrade their program, we are not expecting miracles,” said Szemberg. “Polish clubs will suddenly not play to the level of Sweden or Finland, we know that. But one year from now the best Polish club can be so improved that it can compete with, for example, the champions of Denmark or Great Britain.”

He advised that whoever will step forward as the main challenger must start with a clear vision of what it wants to accomplish, have a good organisation and finally have financial resources to compete at the highest level.

“We are extremely happy over this gesture from the Champions Hockey League,” said Dawid Chwalka, the President of the Polish Ice Hockey Federation, PZHL. “Just this visit from the CHL has given Polish hockey a great boost. We are accepting the opportunity and the challenge given, and Polish hockey will not disappoint. The work to upgrade Polish club hockey starts as we speak. The people behind our main clubs are ready for this. In fact, this is exactly what they have been waiting for.”


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