National League (ice hockey)

The National League (NL) is a professional ice hockey league in Switzerland and is the top tier of the Swiss league system. Prior to the 2017–18 season, the league was known as National League A.[1] During the 2018–19 season, the league had an average of 6,949 spectators per game which is the highest among European leagues (ahead of the KHL with 6,397 and the DEL with 6,215). The capital city's club SC Bern has been ranked first of all European clubs for 18 seasons and had an average attendance of 16,290 after the regular season. The ZSC Lions are another club in the top ten of European ice hockey attendance, ranking seventh with 9,694 spectators.[2]

National League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2023–24 National League (ice hockey) season
Nationalliga A
National League A
National League
SportIce hockey
Founded1938; 86 years ago (1938)
CEODenis Vaucher
No. of teams14
Most recent
Genève-Servette HC (2022–23)
Most titlesHC Davos (31 titles)
TV partner(s)MySports
Relegation toSwiss League
International cup(s)Champions Hockey League
Swiss League
Official websiteNational League

Teams from the NL participate in the IIHF's annual Champions Hockey League (CHL), competing for the European Trophy. Participation is based on the strength of the various leagues in Europe (excluding the European/Asian Kontinental Hockey League). Going into the 2022–23 CHL season, the NL was ranked the No. 2 league in Europe, allowing it to send its top five teams to compete in the CHL.

Season structure edit

During the regular season, each of the 14 teams play 52 games. The top eight teams after the regular season qualify for the playoffs to determine the Swiss champion in best-of-seven series. The bottom four teams in the standings play a relegation tournament, called playouts, in which each team retains their regular season points and play an additional six matches. Following those matches, the two bottom ranked teams will play each other in a best-of-seven series, with the loser then playing the winner of the Swiss League playoffs in a best-of-seven series for a spot in the successive NL season.[3]

Current teams edit

Team Location Arena Capacity Founded Joined league
City Canton
HC Ajoie Porrentruy   Jura Raiffeisen Arena 5,078 1973 2021
HC Ambrì-Piotta Ambrì   Ticino Gottardo Arena 6,775 1937 1985
SC Bern Bern   Bern PostFinance Arena 17,031 1931 1986
EHC Biel Biel/Bienne   Bern Tissot Arena 6,562 1939 2008
HC Davos Davos   Grisons Eisstadion Davos 6,800 1921 1993
Fribourg-Gottéron Fribourg   Fribourg BCF Arena 9,075 1938 1980
Genève-Servette HC Geneva   Geneva Patinoire des Vernets 7,135 1905 2001
EHC Kloten Kloten   Zürich Stimo Arena 7,600 1934 2022
Lausanne HC Lausanne   Vaud Vaudoise Aréna 9,600 1922 2013
HC Lugano Lugano   Ticino Cornèr Arena 7,800 1941 1981
SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers Rapperswil-Jona   St. Gallen St. Galler Kantonalbank Arena 6,100 1945 2018
SCL Tigers Langnau im Emmental   Bern Emmental Versicherung Arena 6,000 1946 2015
ZSC Lions Zürich   Zürich Swiss Life Arena 12,000 1930 1989
EV Zug Zug   Zug Bossard Arena 7,200 1967 1987

Import players edit

The current gentlemen's agreement allows teams to dress a maximum of six non-Swiss players for each game. There is no official rule as it would be against Swiss laws to limit foreign workers in a given enterprise. This agreement is not directly related to Swiss citizenship as players with different nationalities but with Swiss player-licenses are considered Swiss players, thus they do not count as import players. Current examples of this scenario are Deniss Smirnovs and Eliot Berthon with Genève-Servette HC and Floran Douay and Ronalds Ķēniņš with Lausanne HC. They all play with Swiss player-licenses as they have spent a good majority of their childhoods playing hockey with junior teams in Switzerland yet they do not possess Swiss citizenships. Such players would not be able to play in the NL if it was not for their Swiss player-licenses as they would not be considered good enough to use an import player spot on any team. Those spots are usually reserved for players who have had good NHL careers or players with great stats and performances in the AHL, SHL, KHL or Liiga.

The subject of import players has been and still is a huge subject of debates among team owners and GMs. Some of them wish to allow more import players per game in order to reduce the salaries of star Swiss players and the others want to keep that limit lower to allow more Swiss players to play on special units and have top roles on their teams.[4][5]

Media coverage edit

NL games are only available in Switzerland and MySports is the league's official broadcaster, airing all regular season and playoffs games. MySports pays CHF 35 million per year to broadcast NL games and selected SL games.[6] Games are available with German, French and Italian commentaries.

Starting with the 2022/23 season, one game will be broadcast live and for free every week on local TVs on Sunday night with a puck drop set to 8pm.

The SRG SSR airs regular season games highlights after each round and two selected games per playoff night in all three languages. Additionally, talk-shows are broadcast live on all 3 channels after each game night, featuring former Swiss players like Gil Montandon, Marco Bührer or Mark Streit.

Past champions edit

Swiss National Championship Serie A (1909–1937)

Swiss International Championship Serie A (1916–1933)

Titles by club edit

Club Winners Winning years
HC Davos 31 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944,
1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1958, 1960, 1984, 1985, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015
SC Bern 16 1959, 1965, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2004, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019
ZSC Lions 9 1936, 1949, 1961, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018
EHC Arosa 9 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1980, 1982
HC Lugano 7 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1999, 2003, 2006
HC La Chaux-de-Fonds 6 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973
EHC Kloten 5 1967, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
HC Bellerive Vevey 3 1909, 1919, 1920
HC Bern 3 1916, 1917, 1918
EHC St. Moritz 3 1922, 1923, 1928
EHC Biel 3 1978, 1981, 1983
EV Zug 3 1998, 2021, 2022
HC Les Avants 2 1912, 1913
HC Rosey-Gstaad 2 1921, 1925
HC Villars 2 1963, 1964
HC La Villa Lausanne 1 1910
Club des patineurs de Lausanne 1 1911
HC Château-d’Œx 1 1924
EHC Visp 1 1962
Grasshopper-Club Zürich 1 1966
SC Langnau 1 1976
Genève-Servette HC 1 2023

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Resolutions of the National League Assembly regarding the 2017–18 season" (in German). Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Swiss lead attendance study". Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  3. ^ Lovis, Frédéric (14 June 2013). "Les play-out de LNA seront modifiés". Le Matin. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Future of Swiss hockey - Same objective, different recipes". 15 June 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Will a salary cap be introduced into the National League in 2024?". 14 May 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Legal situation between league and MySports still in discussion". 6 March 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2020.

External links edit