The Czech Extraliga (Czech: Extraliga ledního hokeje, ELH) is the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic. It was created by the 1993 split of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League following the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The league usually takes place between September and April and features 14 teams. It is considered as the fifth best ice hockey league in the world.
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2019–20 Czech Extraliga season
|No. of teams||14|
|Oceláři Třinec (2nd title)|
|Most titles||VHK Vsetín (6)|
|TV partner(s)||Česká televize|
|Relegation to||Czech 1.liga|
Naming and sponsorshipEdit
The name of the league is leased to a general sponsor and changes frequently.
14 teams compete in the league, with the top 10 teams at the end of the season qualifying for post-season play to determine the national champion. The top six teams qualify directly to the best-of-seven quarterfinals, while the teams that finish seventh through 10th play a play-in series (best-of-five) to determine who will join them. The four lowest ranked teams (11–14) after the regular season play in a play-out group (12 games, all regular-season games are counted into the ranking). The two worst-placed teams after the play-out group play with the two semi-final winners of the First League in a qualifying group, where each team will play 12 games (twice home and twice away against every team in group), with the first- and second-placed teams of that group qualifying for the Extraliga the following season while the third and fourth teams play in the First League.
During the 2011–12 season, the association of Czech Extraliga managers attempted to close the league to prevent any relegations to or promoting from the second tier national league and also set a maximum salary cap similar to the NHL system. However, after some legal difficulties and strong opposition by the public, the whole proposition was scratched.
The league was founded in 1993, after the separation of Czechoslovakia put an end to the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League. The first season was won by HC Olomouc, who won the title after defeating HC Pardubice 3 games to 1. HC Slavia Praha and HC Dadák Vsetín were promoted from the First League after beating HC Stadion Hradec Králové and HC Vajgar Jindřichův Hradec in the qualifying series. The 1993-94 season was the only season Vajgar ever participated in the Extraliga, while Hradec Králové would return to the league some twenty years later as Mountfield HK.
The 1994–95 season marked the beginning of the Vsetín dynasty. In its first year in the league, HC Dadák Vsetín finished first in the regular season and later won the playoffs, beating AC ZPS Zlín 3 to 1. Vsetín would go on to win the next four installments of the Extraliga, with the team usually finishing first in the regular season as well. No team ever even came close to matching the feat of dominance that was shown by Vsetín throughout the second half of the 1990s.
In the 1995–96 season, the league expanded from 12 to 14 teams. This was the final expansion made to the league and 14 teams have been playing in the league ever since.
The 1998–99 season would be the last for one of the league's most traditional participants, HC Dukla Jihlava. The team lost the qualification series against HC Znojemsti Orli. Dukla later appeared in the 2004–05 installment of the Czech Extraliga, putting up a non-impressive 6-0-5-40 record and were relegated that same season.
In the 1999–2000 season, HC Sparta Praha broke Vsetín's five year long winning streak, defeating them in the finals. This was the only time Vsetín was defeated in the finals, as they would get their revenge and beat Sparta in the finals a season later. The 2000-01 season was the last time Vsetín managed to advance to the finals, and the team began falling further down in the standings every season since.
Sparta won their second title in the 2001–02 season. The title would stay in Prague the next season as well, however, this time Sparta's main rival, Slavia, won the title. The title would then be won by Hamé Zlín (2003–04 season) and HC Moeller Pardubice (2004–05 season) before one of the Prague teams captured it again.
For the first and only time, Sparta and Slavia would appear in the finals in the 2005–06 season. Sparta was the more successful team out of the pair, triumphing over Slavia 4 games to 2. Sparta would win the cup in the next season as well, this time defeating the 2004-05 champion Pardubice in 6 games.
Vsetín's run in the Extraliga would come to an end after the 2006–07 season. The Czech Ice Hockey Association would revoke the club's Extraliga license due to the team's enormous debt, forcing them to fold. As a result, no other teams were relegated that season and the First League champions, HC Slovan Ústečtí Lvi, were automatically promoted to the Extraliga. The 2007–08 season was the only season Slovan ever appeared in the Extraliga, as they were relegated back to the First League at the end of the season.
Since the 2006–07 season, 3 points have been awarded for a regulation win and 2 points for an overtime/shootout victory, while the defeated team in overtime/shootout gets 1 point. If necessary, penalty shots are used to decide games after overtime. Also from the 2006–07 season through the 2007–08 season there was only one assist credited for each goal instead of the standard two that other leagues credit. This rule change affected league statistics in a negative manner, and so the rule was changed back to the standard two assists starting in the 2008–09 season.
Slavia Prague would defeat HC Energie Karlovy Vary in the finals in the 2007–08 season. The same teams appeared in the finals a year later, this time with the opposite outcome. Pardubice then captured its second and third title in the 2009–10 and 2011–12 seasons, respectively. HC Oceláři Třinec won their first title in the 2010–11 season.
The first open-air hockey game since the 1960s took place during the 2010-11 season in Pardubice. The attendance for this game was record breaking, with 17,140 people in the crowd. The home team squared off against HC Kometa Brno, for whom this was their first season back in the Extraliga since 1995. Pardubice won this game 4-2.
HC Mountfield České Budějovice was forced to sell its license after the 2012–13 season, due to an interesting dispute. At the end of the season, Extraliga announced that Radegast would be the new beer sponsor for the league. However, Mountfield had a naming rights agreement with Budweiser Budvar Brewery at the time, and would therefore be unable to sell any other kind of beer at their stadium. As a result of Extraliga and the club not being able to reach an agreement, the team sold its license to Hradec Králové, thus forming Mountfield HK.
For the 2019–20 season, Piráti Chomutov descended to the lower league, while Rytíři Kladno returns to the league after five years. This is mainly thanks to the engagement of Jaromír Jágr, who became recently both owner and a player in the club.
|Kometa Brno||Brno||DRFG Arena||7,700||2|
|HC Olomouc||Olomouc||Zimní stadion Olomouc||5,500||1|
|Mountfield HK||Hradec Králové||Zimní stadion Hradec Králové||7,700||0|
|Energie Karlovy Vary||Karlovy Vary||KV Arena||6,000||1|
|BK Mladá Boleslav||Mladá Boleslav||Ško-Energo Aréna||4,200||0|
|Bílí Tygři Liberec||Liberec||Tipsport Arena||7,250||1|
|Verva Litvínov||Litvínov||Ivan Hlinka Stadion||7,000||1|
|Dynamo Pardubice||Pardubice||Tipsport arena (Pardubice)||10,194||3|
|HC Škoda Plzeň||Plzeň||Home Monitoring Aréna||8,236||1|
|Rytíři Kladno||Kladno||Zimní Kladno Stadion||8,600||0|
|Sparta Praha||Prague||O2 Arena||17,383||4|
|Oceláři Třinec||Třinec||Werk Arena||5,200||2|
|Vítkovice Ridera||Ostrava||Ostravar Aréna||9,568||0|
|PSG Berani Zlín||Zlín||Zimní stadion Luďka Čajky||7,000||2|
|Club||Winners||Runners-up||Third place||Winning Years|
|VHK Vsetín||1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001|
|HC Sparta Praha||2000, 2002, 2006, 2007|
|HC Pardubice||2005, 2010, 2012|
|HC Slavia Praha||2003, 2008|
|HC Zlín||2004, 2014|
|HC Kometa Brno||2017, 2018|
|HC Oceláři Třinec||2011, 2019|
|Energie Karlovy Vary||2009|
|HC Verva Litvínov||2015|
|HC Škoda Plzeň||2013|
|HC Vítkovice Steel||-|
|HC České Budějovice||-|
- "Ranking the Top Ten Hockey Leagues". The Hockey Writers. 10 January 2015.
- "Czech Extraliga Managers Want to Close the League". eurohockey.com. Retrieved 26 July 2012.