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The IIHF European Champions Cup was an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation. Held in early January, it crowned a winner that was considered the official club champion of Europe by the IIHF. It was created in 2005 as a replacement to the defunct European Cup and the suspended European Hockey League. This event was last held in 2008; from 2008-09, the Champions Hockey League took its place as the new official European club championship event.
The European Champions Cup's history predates by a large amount of time its official creation in 2005. Indeed, back in 1965, Dr. Günther Sabetzki brought the idea of organizing a pan-European champion club competition, based on the success of the European Cup in football (soccer). The idea was presented during an IIHF meeting in Tampere, Finland; the idea was approved by a majority of the delegates and the European Cup was created.
But the competition faced some major difficulties. Unlike in football, where there exists in football a fine parity between the top clubs of many top European leagues, it was not the case with hockey, as leagues were (and still are) of various levels of play across the continent, meaning that their respective champions were of wildly different standards; this led to many uncompetitive one-sided matches that in no way made the competition an interesting event, neither for the parcipating teams nor the public. On top of that, the Cup was very difficult to organize since Soviet Union teams sometimes refused to play away games in certain places, due to the country's policies. This meant that in some years, there was no final game played, and more than one final played in some others. In 1997, it was decided that the competition would be discontinued.
However, the IIHF wasn't abandoning the idea of a hockey championship for the whole continent. The federation rather set up the European Hockey League and the Continental Cup; later, they were succeeded by the European Champions Cup.
This competition involved the champions of the top six European nations, according to the IIHF World Ranking, nicknamed the Super Six. They were divided in two groups of three, named after international hockey legends Ivan Hlinka and Alexander Ragulin. A round robin was played in each group, the winner of each facing in a final championship game.
- 2005 Avangard Omsk (runner-up: Kärpät Oulu)
- 2006 Dynamo Moscow (runner-up: Kärpät Oulu)
- 2007 Ak Bars Kazan (runner-up: HPK Hämeenlinna)
- 2008 Metallurg Magnitogorsk (runner-up: Sparta Praha)