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"Ahearn Trophy": Rescue for troubled UK league?
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November 29, 2001; 14:30
"Ahearn Trophy": Rescue for troubled UK league?
German DEL and British Superleague set to face-off against each other
Frank Johne

 


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Munich, Germany - In a press conference at the German Embassy in London, the British Superleague Thursday announced a competition between its seven clubs and seven from the German DEL. The tournament is scheduled to take place during the Olympic break next February. Can the tournament spark the troubled UK league?
 

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The Superleague’s "Magnificent Seven" will take on German clubs Düsseldorfer EG, Eisbären Berlin, Frankfurt Lions, Hannover Scorpions, Iserlohn Roosters, Revier Löwen Oberhausen and Schwenninger Wild Wings - in a "Ryder Cup"-style tournament, the first of its kind to be held in the UK.

Competition named after former IIHF President Ahearne

The Trophy has been named after a true gentleman of British Hockey, John Francis "Bunny" Ahearne, who was a former Secretary of the British Ice Hockey Association, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation and was inducted into three separate Hockey Halls of Fame.

"The Ahearne Trophy" was originally played for as a knock-out Tournament between 1952 and 1977, and was won by such prominent international teams as Djurgardens Stockholm of Sweden or Spartak Moscow.

The new competition will unite all Superleague teams as they battle against the German Elite League for posession of the Ahearne Trophy. Each UK club will play two home games, against two separate DEL teams, to be played between 12th and 17th February 2002.

Superleague official: "create a competition that will be unique and special"

Ian Taylor, Chief Executive of the Superleague, said. "I am delighted to announce details of this new competition with its unique teams format, against such prestigious opposition. The progress and development of professional ice hockey is a testament to the commitment of players, fans and league’s across Europe, but also the commitment and dedication of IIHF members, such as Bunny Ahearne. I have no doubt that as this competition develops in years to come, we will strengthen relations with our counterparts in Europe and in doing so create a competition that will be unique and special in the minds of the fans."

"Undoubtedly the 'Ahearne Trophy' will create new opportunities for commercial partners, broadcasters and team sponsors who will look at the sucesses of the developing brand of Ice Hockey Superleague and ice hockey in general," Taylor concluded

Last chance for troubled UK league?

The Superleague has been struggling heavily recently and is in desparate need of "new opportunities". Two franchises, the Cardiff Devils and Newcastle Jesters folded because of financial problems. The league is also in a legal battle with Premium TV to regain control of its media rights. With no games being televised, the league also lost its main sponsor.

Of the seven remaining teams, all four London-area franchises are owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group which, amongst others, operates the LA Kings of the NHL and the
Munich Barons and Berlin Eisbären of the DEL. Considering the small number of suitable hockey arenas in the United Kingdom and the league’s other struggles, the games with the German DEL are being promoted as a possible forerunner to a European League. The Dutch city of Amsterdam has been rumored as a possible expansion franchise for the Superleague.
Frank Johne

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