The Deutsche Eishockey Liga (German Ice Hockey League, shortname DEL) is a German professional ice hockey league, which currently has the highest number of American and Canadian players outside of North America. It was formed as a replacement for the Ice hockey Bundesliga and is now known as DEL - Die 1. Bundesliga. Unlike the old Bundesliga, the DEL is not under the administration of the German Ice Hockey Federation.
The Ice hockey Bundesliga (English:Federal Ice Hockey League) was formed in 1957 as the elite hockey competition in the Federal Republic of Germany, replacing the Oberliga in this position. It was in turn replaced by the DEL, which now also carries the name 1st Bundesliga in its logo.
The DEL was founded in the 1994–95 season, made up of teams from the ice hockey Bundesliga's 1st and 2nd division. The condition of this earlier leagues had become intolerable: many of the 1st and 2nd division teams were heavily in debt, while the 2nd division attracted few sponsors and spectators; thus many clubs were forced to fold or withdraw to the lower leagues. Fans and corporate sponsors focus on the 1st Bundesliga teams forced the elite teams to invested heavily in players to avoid relegation, raising the budgets 25% over the last two years.
In the last Bundesliga season 1993–94, only 11 teams wanted to play in the 2nd Bundesliga. Furthermore, two teams folded during the season and after season's end. Ice hockeys reputation in Germany was heavily tarnished and this made it difficult to attract serious sponsorship. Mid January 1994, 20 out of the remaining 21 1st and 2nd Bundesliga teams voted for creating a new entity, the DEL.
Upon founding, the "DEL Betriebsgesellschaft mbH" was the first German professional sports league managed by an organization whose members where incorporated as well. The goal behind the DEL was to create a league, based on the model of the North American NHL, in which the teams could play consistently without relegation concerns and create a stable league. The clubs in the DEL were required to conform to rules that were designed to ensure long-term viability. Twelve clubs from the old 1st Bundesliga, and six from the 2nd Bundesliga came together as founding members. The new league immediately attracted corporate sponsorship with the Krombacher Brewery who was prominently featured on the new league logo.
The hope to be able to avoid the troubles of the old Bundesliga by stricter financial controls did not materialize. During DEL's first season, on December 18, 1994 the Bundesliga's last champion, the renamed EC Hedos München, folded. This was controversial, as DEL's president Franz Hofherr approved their license certifying their finances. Hofherr was Mad Dogs former president and it was alleged that he must have known about their desperate financial situation.
The Bosman ruling, a 1995 decision of the European Court of Justice regarding the movement of labor in soccer, had profound influence on the league. The old Bundesliga had national character with German clubs competing for the German title using mostly German players. After the ruling European Union players were excluded from the "foreign" player quota. In the 1995–96 season following the decision, the DEL teams employed 97 EU players lowering their costs significantly, thus enabling the smaller teams to compete more effectively. However, the ensuing frequent player moves were not viewed positively by the fans, resulting in smaller attendance numbers.
The 2004–05 season was significant due to the NHL lockout. Among the 22 NHL players came to play the season in the DEL were Erik Cole, Stéphane Robidas, Doug Weight, Mike York and several German national team players -- Jochen Hecht, Olaf Kölzig, and Marco Sturm,.
There are currently 14 teams playing in the DEL.
The DEL is an independently run league, fully owned and operated by its 15 member teams. Each team must fulfill the DEL's basic requirements to remain in the league:
- A written application for membership;
- "On ice qualification" for new teams (championship in the 2nd Bundesliga);
- A stadium that meets DEL standards;
- Financial qualification;
- Formation of an ordinary company (the DEL consists of franchises);
- Development program for young players; and
- Purchase of a license (currently, the licensing fee is set at € 800,000.00)
The DEL can only admit one 2nd Bundesliga team per season to the league, unless the league strength falls below fourteen, in which case two clubs can be admitted. Since the 2006–07 season, no DEL team can be automatically relegated, a team can only lose its league status through non-compliance with the leagues regulations (see above).
From the 2008–09 season on, each DEL club will only be allowed to have ten non-EEC players under contract.
The ESBG guarantees to admit any DEL team wishing to step down to the lower 2nd Bundesliga or Oberliga. The team, however, has to purchase a license (licensing fees for the 2nd Bundesliga are currently set at € 100,000.00).
To regulate the relationship between the DEL, the DEB and the ESBG (2nd Bundesliga), a so called Kooperationsvertrag exists. This cooperation contract was signed in December 2005., and is valid until 2011. This contract ended years of dispute between the three organizations over competencies and financial issues.
In November 2007, the DEL announced another change in policy. The league expanded to allow 16 teams beginning in the 2008–09 season, resulting in direct promotion for the 2nd Bundesliga league champions, should they fulfill all requirements and be interested in joining the DEL. Should this not be the case, or a current DEL team resigns from the league, a selection process would determine the club, or clubs, who would be eligible to join in order required to archive 16 teams. (Note: Füchse Duisburg resigned before the 2009-2010 season and was not replaced until the following season.)
Additionally, a new format for the game schedule will limit the number of regular season games to 52 for each team. This is achieved by each team playing four games against eleven others and two games against the remaining four. To determine which teams play which, the final standings of the previous season are used.
The DEL would also reintroduce promotion once more. The first- and second-lowest ranked teams will play a best-of-seven series to determine which team faces the 2nd Bundesliga champion for a place in the league. There is, however, an ongoing dispute about those games as second division teams may only have five foreign players on contract, and therefore face a handicap in comparison to the DEL teams with twelve import players each. For now, the ESBG has declared that no team from the 2nd Bundesliga would take part in these matches and therefore no promotion/relegation with the DEL will take place.
30 clubs have played in the DEL since founding, with 15 currently playing. Since 2007, 10 clubs have qualified for the play offs. The 1994 standing represents the 1st/2nd Bundesliga.
|Iserlohn Roosters 1||15||12||9||12||11||11||11||5||11||11|
|Hamburg Freezers 2||8||3||8||6||7||7||8||14|
|Schwenninger Wild Wings||1BL||9||5||10||9||10||11||12||16||14|
|Revier Löwen Oberhausen||14||14||14||6||13|
|München Barons 2 3||2||3||1|
|Star Bulls Rosenheim 1||1BL||8||13||6||15||12||12|
|Landshut Cannibals 3||1BL||2||4||7||6||6|
|Mad Dogs München 4||1BL||18|
|White||not qualified for play-offs|
- 1 In 2001, the Star Bulls Rosenheim sold their DEL licence to the Iserlohn Roosters.
- 2 In 2002, the München Barons relocated to become the Hamburg Freezers.
- 3 In 1999, the Landshut Cannibals sold their DEL licence to the München Barons.
- 4 In 1995, the Mad Dogs München folded during the regular season.
- In the 1995 and 1996 season, 16 clubs were qualified for the play offs.
- In the 1998 season, 14 clubs were qualified for the play offs.
- ↑ "Kooperationsvertrages" (in German) (PDF). DEL. http://www.del.org/fileadmin/content/downloads/vorstellung_kooperationsvertrag.pdf. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- ↑ "Fragen zur DEL" (in German). DEL. http://www.del.org/index.php?id=39. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- ↑ "DEL: Neuer Modus mit Auf- und Abstieg" (in German). Hockeyweb.de. 2007-11-21. http://www.hockeyweb.de/artikel.php?a=32407. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- ↑ "DEL: Kein Auf- und Abstieg" (in German). kicker.de. 2008-03-14. http://www.kicker.de/news/eishockey/startseite/artikel/376298. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- ↑ "Frankfurt Lions akzeptieren Entscheidung der DEL" (in German). frankfurt-lions-gmbh.de. http://frankfurt-lions-gmbh.de/pages/news/topnews.php. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- ↑ "OLG Köln besiegelt DEL-Aus, Team siegt trotzdem noch einmal" (in German). www.huskies-online.de. 2010-08-27. http://www.huskies-online.de/aktuell/presse/presse.cfm?suche=1754. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- Meltzer, Bill. "Germany a Hockey Haven for Former NHL Players" at NHL.com Retrieved 03-23-06.
- Meltzer, Bill. "Three European Champs, Three Different Paths to the Top" at NHL.com Retrieved 08-18-06.
- Official DEL website (in German)
- Official Website of the German Ice Hockey-Federation - DEB
- Official DEB-MySpace-Website
- Hockeyarenas - DEL Arenas
- GermanHockey.net - English news site on German DEL hockey
- Internet Hockey Database - standings and statistics
- Hockey Archives - International ice hockey website with tables and results (in French)