First up in our feature on get to know European Hockey is the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. Based primarily in Austria, the league features 8 Austrian teams as well as 4 from neighboring countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. The league is set up a little differently than the other European leagues when it comes to the number of import players allowed. They operate on a points system with each player being assigned a certain number of points, while each team is allowed to have 60 points on their roster. Import players are worth 4 points and then local players are assigned a certain number of points based on age, skill level, experience, whether they are a national team player etc. All players under 24 years old (excluding imports) are worth 0 points.
The league is basically broken up into 2 seasons. Each team plays each other in the regular season 4 times, twice at home and twice on the road. After the regular season is over the teams enter what is called the 'Pick Round". The league is then split into two groups. The top six teams after the regular season automatically qualify for the playoffs and only play against each other, (once home and once away) to determine their playoff seeding. The botton six teams then battle it out against each other to determine who gets the last two playoff spots. The top 3 teams after the pick round then get to choose their first round playoff opponent. Once the playoffs start you need to win 3 rounds (best of 7) to be crowned the champion.
First up on our list of teams we'll be featuring is reigning champions EC Red Bull Salzburg.