The SM-liiga, colloquially called the Finnish Elite League in English, is the top professional ice hockey league in Finland. It is one of the six founding leagues of the Champions Hockey League and allocated five spots - the maximum number - based on success in previous editions, it was created in 1975 to replace the SM-sarja, fundamentally an amateur league. The SM-liiga is not directly overseen by the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, but the league and association have an agreement of cooperation. SM is a common abbreviation for Suomen mestaruus, "Finnish championship"; the SM-liiga had a system of automatic promotion and relegation in place between itself and the Mestis, the second highest level of competition in Finland, but the automatic system was ended in 2000. The league was allowed KalPa to get a promotion. In 2009, a new system was introduced and it includes the last placed SM-liiga team facing the Mestis champion in a best of seven playout series. In 2013, the relegation system was abandoned again and replaced by a procedure in which successful clubs of Mestis may apply for a promotion if they fulfill definite financial criteria.
Since 2013, Jokerit joined the KHL and Espoo Blues went bankrupt, but Sport, KooKoo and Jukurit were promoted. Therefore Liiga is a competition of 15 teams in the 2016 -- 2017 -- 18 seasons; the SM-liiga was constituted in 1975 to concentrate the development of top-level Finnish ice hockey, pave the way towards professionalism. Its predecessor, the SM-sarja, being an amateur competition, had its disadvantages, which were perceived as impeding Finland's rise to the highest ranks of ice hockey. One of the main problems was that the governing of the SM-sarja was based on the annual meeting of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, where all important issues were decided by vote. Since all clubs registered under the Finnish Ice Hockey Association had the right to vote, the many amateur clubs prevailed over the few business-like clubs. Therefore, the concentrated development of top-level Finnish ice hockey by the motivated and financially capable clubs proved arduous; the new SM-liiga was to be run by a board consisting of its participating clubs only and to have an agreement of cooperation with the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.
The SM-sarja was outdated on its own, as it was run according to amateur principles. Clubs were not supposed to pay their players beyond compensation for lost wages. However, by the 1970s many clubs were run like businesses and recruited players through a contract of employment, paying their wages secretly and evading taxes. However, in 1974, accounting reform in Finland extended book-keeping standards to cover sports clubs, shortfalls were exposed in audit raids; the SM-liiga was to allow wages for players, clubs were put under a tighter supervision. They were to establish their own association for SM-liiga ice hockey only, separating their commitments from junior activities and other sports. Copies of all player contracts were to be sent to the SM-liiga to provide players with adequate security, such as insurance and pensions; the SM-sarja had other limits for players. According to amateur ideals, no player could represent more than one club within one season. Personal sponsorship was forbidden.
To discourage trading, a system of quarantine was in force. The SM-liiga stripped the limitations for players, replaced quarantine with a then-modest transfer payment, introduced the transfer list. Players wanting a transfer were to sign up, the SM-liiga would distribute the right of negotiations to clubs. In practice, the list was not successful, as both parties worked their way around the formalities; these changes led to a transition towards professional ice hockey as the league became semi-professional. Only a few players would make a livelihood out of ice hockey in Finland in the 1970s, many players the young, would settle for a contract in the SM-liiga without a wage. A major financial development for professional ice hockey in Finland was the introduction of playoffs. Gate receipts and other income from playoffs were distributed as a placement bonus. Although playoffs were the standard way of determining the champions in North American professional sports, at the time they were not common in Europe.
The SM-liiga was established rather hastily. The required changes were initiated at the 1974 annual meeting, the SM-liiga was launched for the 1975–76 season, it was the first Finnish professional sports league, its solutions were untried. However, there had been a mounting demand for these changes, as the popularity of ice hockey had been rising in the previous decade; the SM-liiga picked up. The four best of the regular season were to proceed to the playoffs; the system of promotion and relegation from the SM-sarja remained in force: last-placed teams of the regular season had to qualify for their position in the SM-liiga against the best teams of the second-highest series. The combined attendance for the first eleven regular seasons hovered around 900,000. In 1986–87, the number of games for each team was increased from 36 to 44, reaching its current level of 56 games in 2000–01, the SM-liiga was expanded to 12 clubs for the 1988–89 season; the general popularity of ice hockey strengthened through international success of the Finland men's national ice hockey team, the combined attendance climbed through the 1990s to about 1.8 million.
This prompted an increase in the profitability of the ice hockey business and the completion of the transition to full professionalism. By the mid-1990s, all players were full-time, by 2000, most clubs had reformed into limited companies. In late 1990s and early 2000s the S
NHL Entry Draft
The NHL Entry Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise of the National Hockey League systematically select the rights to available ice hockey players who meet draft eligibility requirements. The NHL Entry Draft is held once every year within two to three months after the conclusion of the previous season. During the draft, teams take turns selecting amateur players from junior or collegiate leagues and professional players from European leagues; the first draft was held in 1963, has been held every year since. The NHL Entry Draft was known as the NHL Amateur Draft until 1979; the entry draft has only been a public event since 1980, a televised event since 1984. Up to 1994, the order was determined by the standings at the end of the regular season. In 1995, the NHL Draft Lottery was introduced where only teams who had missed the playoffs could participate; the one lottery winner would move up the draft order a maximum of four places, meaning only the top five-placed teams could pick first in the draft, no team in the non-playoff group could move down more than one place.
The chances of winning the lottery were weighted towards the teams at the bottom of the regular season standings. Beginning in 2013, the limit of moving up a maximum of four places in the draft order was eliminated, so the lottery winner would automatically receive the first overall pick, any teams above it in the draft order would still move down one spot; the first NHL Entry Draft was held on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Quebec. Any amateur player under the age of 20 was eligible to be drafted. In 1979, the rules were changed allowing players who had played professionally to be drafted; this rule change was made to facilitate the absorption of players from the defunct World Hockey Association. The name of the draft was changed from "NHL Amateur Draft" to "NHL Entry Draft". Beginning in 1980, any player, between the ages of 18 and 20 is eligible to be drafted. In addition, any non-North American player over the age of 20 can be selected. From 1987 through 1991, 18 and 19-year-old players could only be drafted in the first three rounds unless they met another criterion of experience which required them to have played in major junior, U.
S. college and high school, or European hockey. In 1980, the Entry Draft became a public event, was held at the Montreal Forum. Prior to that year the Entry Draft was conducted in Montreal hotels or league offices and was closed to the general public; the first draft outside of Montreal was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Ontario, in 1985. Live television coverage of the draft began in 1984 when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation covered the event in both English and French for Canadian audiences; the 1987 Entry Draft, held at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, was the first NHL Draft to be held in the United States. SportsChannel America began covering the event in the United States in 1989. Prior to the development of the Draft, NHL teams sponsored junior teams, signed prospects in their teens to the junior teams. Players were signed to one of three forms: the "A" form; the "C" form could only be signed by the player at age eighteen or by the player's parents in exchange for some signing bonus.
The first drafts were held to assign players who had not signed with an NHL organization before the sponsorship of junior teams was discontinued after 1968. The selection order in the NHL Entry Draft is determined by a combination of lottery, regular season standing, playoff results. While teams are permitted to trade draft picks both during the draft and prior to it, in all cases, the selection order of the draft picks is based on the original holder of the pick, not a team which may have acquired the pick via a trade or other means; the order of picks discussed in this section always references the original team. The basic order of the NHL Entry Draft is determined based on the standings of the teams in the previous season; as with the other major sports leagues, the basic draft order is intended to favour the teams with the weakest performance who need the most improvement in their roster to compete with the other teams. Subject to the results of the NHL Draft Lottery, the teams pick in the same order each round, with each team getting one pick per round.
The basic order of the picks is determined as follows: The teams that did not qualify for the playoffs the previous season The teams that made the playoffs in the previous season but did not win either their division in the regular season or play in the Conference Finals The teams that won their divisions in the previous season but did not play in the Conference Finals The teams that lose in Conference Finals The team, the runner-up in the Stanley Cup Finals The team that won the Stanley Cup in the previous season The number of teams in the second and third group depends on whether the Conference finalists won their division. The teams in each group are ordered within that group based on their point totals in the preceding regular season. Tie-breakers are governed by the same rule
2004–05 NHL lockout
The 2004–05 NHL lockout was a lockout that resulted in the cancellation of what would have been the 88th season of play of the National Hockey League. It was the first time the Stanley Cup was not awarded since 1919, the first time a major professional sports league in North America canceled a complete season because of a labor dispute, the second time after the 1994–1995 MLB strike that the postseason of a major professional sports league in North America was canceled; the lockout lasted 10 months and 6 days starting September 16, 2004, the day after the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players Association that resolved the 1994–95 lockout expired. The lockout of the 2004–2005 season resulted in 1,230 unplayed games; the negotiating teams reached an agreement on July 13, 2005, the lockout ended 9 days on July 22, after both the NHL owners and players ratified the CBA. The NHL, led by Commissioner Gary Bettman, attempted to convince players to accept a salary structure linking player salaries to league revenues, guaranteeing the clubs what the league called cost certainty.
According to an NHL-commissioned report prepared by former U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt, prior to 2004–05, NHL clubs spent about 76 percent of their gross revenues on players' salaries – a figure far higher than those in other North American sports – and collectively lost US$273 million during the 2002–03 season. On July 20, 2004, the league presented the NHLPA with six concepts to achieve cost certainty; these concepts are believed to have ranged from a hard, or inflexible, salary cap similar to the one used in the National Football League, to a soft salary cap with some capped exceptions like the one used in the National Basketball Association, to a centralized salary negotiation system similar to that used in the Arena Football League and Major League Soccer. According to Bettman, a luxury tax similar to the one used in Major League Baseball would not have satisfied the league's cost certainty objectives. Most sports commentators saw Bettman's plan as reasonable, but some critics pointed out that a hard salary cap without any revenue sharing was an attempt to gain the support of the big market teams, such as Toronto, Detroit, the New York Rangers and Philadelphia, teams that did not support Bettman during the 1994–95 lockout.
The NHLPA, under executive director Bob Goodenow, disputed the league's financial claims. According to the union, "cost certainty" is little more than a euphemism for a salary cap, which it had vowed never to accept; the union rejected each of the six concepts presented by the NHL, claiming they all contained some form of salary cap. The NHLPA preferred to retain the existing "marketplace" system where players individually negotiate contracts with teams, teams have complete control of how much they want to spend on players. Goodenow's mistrust of the league was supported by a November 2004 Forbes report that estimated the NHL's losses were less than half the amounts claimed by the league. Several players criticized the contracts. One example was the 2002 Bobby Holik contract in which the New York Rangers signed him to five years for $45 million. After two years, his contract was bought out by the Rangers: "In the new world we live in, Bobby was just paid too much," according to Glen Sather, the Rangers' president.
Although the NHL's numbers were disputed, there was no question that several franchises were losing money, as several had declared bankruptcy. Other franchises had held "fire sales" of franchise players, such as the Washington Capitals; some small-market teams, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the remaining small-market Canadian teams, were hoping for a lockout, since those teams would make more money by losing a season, with the Edmonton Oilers publicly announcing that they would fold outright if there wasn't a lockout. The league did not have large TV revenues in the US, so the NHL was reliant on attendance revenues more than other leagues. After the lockout of the 2004–2005 season, NHL teams made on average only 3 million dollars from television revenues. In addition in May of the 2004–2005 lockout, ESPN formally denied the option to show NHL games on the network due to low ratings in previous seasons. Many NHL teams had low attendance totals in preceding seasons. Prior to the lockout, in late 2003 the union proposed a system that included revenue sharing, a luxury tax, a one-time five percent rollback in player salaries, reforms to the league's entry level system.
The league rejected this proposal immediately because it maintained the status quo in favor of the players. Shortly before the lockout commenced in 2004, the NHLPA offered another proposal to the league, believed to be similar to their earlier proposal; the league again rejected the union offer, claiming the union's new proposal was worse than the offer they rejected in 2003. At this point, negotiations stopped until early December, when the NHLPA made a anticipated proposal based on a luxury tax that increased the proposed one-time rollback in players' salaries from 5 to 24 percent; the NHL rejected the offer and countered with a proposal that the union rejected. In late January 2005, near what the hockey media believed to be the point of no return for the 2004–05 season, discussions were held by the negotiators from both sides, excluding Bettman and Goodenow; the NHL was represented by Executive Vice President Bill Daly, outside counsel Bob Batterman, NHL Board of Governors Chairman Harley Hotchkiss, who co-owns the Calgary Flames.
The NHLPA was represented by President Trevor Linden, Senior Director Ted Saskin, associate counsel Ian Pulver. After four meetings, the sides remained dea
2003–04 NHL season
The 2003–04 NHL season was the 87th regular season of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup champions were the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the best of seven series four games to three against the Calgary Flames. For the fourth time in eight years, the all-time record for total shutouts in a season was shattered, as 192 shutouts were recorded; the 2003–04 regular season was the first one since 1967–68 in which there was neither a 50-goal scorer, nor a 100-point scorer. This was the final season that ESPN televised NHL games, it was the final NHL season before the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the final season in which games could end in ties. The schedule of 82 games was revamped; the 30 teams played 82 games in a revamped format that increased divisional games from five to six per team, conference games from three to four, decreased inter-conference games to at least one per team, with three extra games. The alternating of jerseys was changed. For the first season since the 1969–70 season, teams would now wear their colored jerseys at home and white jerseys away.
The Phoenix Coyotes moved to a new arena in Glendale, after playing their first seven seasons at America West Arena. The 2003–04 season was one overhung by concern over the expiry of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, it would lead to the cancellation of the League's games for the entirety of the next season. During the entire season, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players' Association head Bob Goodenow waged a war of words with no agreement being signed. On September 26, just before the season was to begin, young Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley crashed his Ferrari in suburban Atlanta; the passenger, Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder, was killed. Heatley himself was badly injured and charged with vehicular homicide. Entering the season, the two Stanley Cup favorites were the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference, who had won the Presidents' Trophy and come within a win of the Stanley Cup Finals the year before, the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference, despite losing legendary goaltender Patrick Roy to retirement, added both Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya to an star-studded lineup.
Neither of these teams, were as successful as expected, with Ottawa finishing fifth in their conference and Colorado finishing fourth, losing the Northwest Division title for the first time in a decade when the franchise was still known as the Quebec Nordiques. The greatest disappointments were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, despite making it to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals the year prior and adding both Sergei Fedorov and Vaclav Prospal, failed to make the playoffs; the Los Angeles Kings failed to make the playoffs in large part due to a season-ending 11-game losing streak. In the East, the star-studded New York Rangers again failed to make the playoffs; the Washington Capitals, who were regarded as a contender stumbled early in the season and never recovered. The end of the season saw two of the most extensive housecleanings in League history, as the Rangers and Capitals traded away many of their stars and entered "rebuilding mode." The Capitals traded away Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Sergei Gonchar, Robert Lang and Anson Carter, while the Rangers moved Petr Nedved, Brian Leetch, Anson Carter and Alexei Kovalev to other NHL teams.
The most surprising teams were the Tampa Bay Lightning in the East and the San Jose Sharks in the West. The Lightning, who had a remarkable season with only 20 man-games lost to injury, finished atop the Eastern Conference, while the Sharks, who were in rebuilding mode after a disastrous 28–37–9–8 campaign the last season, came second in the West and won the Pacific Division. Two other teams that did better than expected were carried by surprising young goaltenders; the Calgary Flames ended a seven-year playoff drought backed by the solid play of Miikka Kiprusoff, the Boston Bruins won the Northeast Division by a whisker over the Toronto Maple Leafs with the help of eventual Calder Memorial Trophy-winning goaltender Andrew Raycroft. Goaltending was the story of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Detroit Red Wings as the return from retirement of legend Dominik Hasek bumped Curtis Joseph to the minor leagues. At the same time, long-time back up Manny Legace recorded better numbers than both veterans and won the starting job in the playoffs.
Of note is the fact that the Nashville Predators made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, though they were dispatched by a star-studded Detroit Red Wings team in the first round. The regular season ended controversially, when in March 2004, the Vancouver Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi infamously attacked and injured the Colorado Avalanche's Steve Moore, forcing the latter to retire. Detroit Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. For rankings in conference, division leaders are automatically ranked 1–3; these three, plus the next five teams in the conference standings, earn playoff berths at the end of the season. Note: CR = Conference rank. Note: CR = Conference rank. Note: CR = Conference rank. Divisions: AT – Atlantic, NE – Northeast, SE – Southeast Z- Clinched Conference.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are a professional ice hockey team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League; the Penguins are one of two NHL franchises in Pennsylvania. The cities' proximity has led to a rivalry known as the "Battle of Pennsylvania"; the club is owned by Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle, who purchased the Penguins in 1999 and brought the club out of bankruptcy. The franchise was founded in 1967 as one of the first expansion teams during the league's original expansion from six to twelve teams; the Penguins played in the Civic Arena known as The Igloo, from the time of their inception through the end of the 2009–10 season, when they moved to the Consol Energy Center, renamed PPG Paints Arena. The 1992–93 Penguins won the franchise's first-ever Presidents' Trophy for being the team with the most points at the end of the regular season. In addition to their eight division titles, they have qualified for six Stanley Cup Finals, winning the Stanley Cup five times – in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017.
Along with the Edmonton Oilers, the Penguins are tied for the most Stanley Cup championships among non-Original Six teams and sixth overall. With their Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017, the Penguins became the first back-to-back champions in 19 years and the first team to do so since the introduction of the NHL salary cap, they became the fifth team to accomplish this feat multiple times. Before the Penguins, Pittsburgh had been the home of the NHL's Pirates from 1925 to 1930 and of the American Hockey League Hornets franchise from 1936 to 1967. In the spring of 1965, Jack McGregor, a state senator from Kittanning, began lobbying campaign contributors and community leaders to bring an NHL franchise back to Pittsburgh; the group focused on leveraging the NHL as an urban renewal tool for Pittsburgh. The senator formed a group of local investors that included H. J. Heinz Company heir H. J. Heinz III, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, the Mellon family's Richard Mellon Scaife; the projected league expansion depended on securing votes from the then-current NHL owners.
The effort was successful, on February 8, 1966, the National Hockey League awarded an expansion team to Pittsburgh for the 1967–68 season. The Penguins paid $2.5 million $750,000 more for start-up costs. The Civic Arena's capacity was boosted from 10,732 to 12,500 to meet the NHL requirements for expansion; the Pens paid an indemnification bill to settle with the Detroit Red Wings, which owned the Pittsburgh Hornets franchise. The investor group named McGregor president and chief executive officer, he represented Pittsburgh on the NHL's Board of Governors. A contest was held. Mark Peters had the winning entry, a logo was chosen that had a penguin in front of a triangle, which symbolized the "Golden Triangle" of downtown Pittsburgh." The Penguins' first general manager, Jack Riley, opened the first pre-season camp for the franchise in Brantford, Ontario, on September 13, 1967, playing the franchise's first exhibition match in Brantford against the Philadelphia Flyers on September 23, 1967. The Pens, along with the rest of the expansion teams, were hampered by restrictive rules which kept most major talent with the existing "Original Six" teams.
Beyond aging sniper Andy Bathgate, All-Star defenseman Leo Boivin and Ranger veteran Earl Ingarfield, the first Penguins team was manned by a cast of former minor leaguers. A number of the players had played for the Hornets the previous season: Bathgate, wingers Val Fonteyne and Ab McDonald, goaltenders Hank Bassen and Joe Daley. George Sullivan was named the head coach for the club's first two seasons, McDonald was named the team's first captain. On October 11, 1967, league president Clarence Campbell and McGregor jointly dropped the ceremonial first puck of the Penguins' opening home game against the Montreal Canadiens. On October 21, 1967, they became the first team from the expansion class to defeat an Original Six team, as they defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4–2. However, the Penguins went 27–34–13 and finished in fifth place in the West Division, missing the playoffs and ending with the third worst record in the league; the team's best player proved to be longtime Cleveland Barons AHL goaltender Les Binkley, who recorded a 2.88 goals against average and was second in the league in shutouts with six.
Defensive winger Ken Schinkel won the team's sole league honor, being named to represent the Penguins in the NHL All-Star Game. Bathgate retired at season's end. McDonald, who led the team in goals and was second in team scoring, was gone at season's end, traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for center Lou Angotti; the next season, 1968–69, saw the team slip in the standings in the midst of a sharp drop in form by Binkley, into sixth place and with the league's worst record. Several changes were made to try to improve the team, resulting in Boivin and several others being traded, new players—including longtime future Pens star Jean Pronovost—making their debuts. No captain
Skellefteå AIK is a Swedish professional ice hockey club from Skellefteå, Sweden. The SHL is the highest level of ice hockey in Sweden, they play their games in Skellefteå Kraft Arena. The team has won the Swedish Championship three times – in 1978, 2013, 2014. Skellefteå AIK was founded in 1921, although ice hockey was not played until 1943, with only training matches being played the first season. In the 1943–44 season, the club played in the local league Skellefteserien, which could not be finished due to unsuitable hockey weather as the games were played outdoors. In 1955 Skellefteå qualified for the highest league in Sweden. Around this time the team was led by the so-called "Mosquito Line", which consisted of Anders "Akka" Andersson, "Garvis" Määttä and Kalle Hedlund. In the 1957–58 season they won the Allsvenskan's northern group and finished second in SM-serien, only one point behind the winner Djurgårdens IF. Skellefteå AIK played in Division 1 North until 1967; the club had difficulties qualifying for continued play in the Division 1 series but in 1975 the series was won and Skellefteå finished in fourth place in SM-serien.
When the Swedish Elite League under the name Elitserien was formed in 1975, Skellefteå AIK was one of the teams participating. In the 1977–78 regular season Martin Karlsson led the league in goals and points while Hardy Nilsson was the league's most penalized player. Skellefteå went on to win the playoffs led by a strong performance by Göran Lindblom, becoming Swedish champions in 1978, in 1981 Skellefteå won the regular season series. In 1985, the club's hockey organization split from the mother club, competed as Skellefteå HC until 1991, when the club would retake the Skellefteå AIK name. In 1990 Skellefteå was relegated but after 16 seasons of play in the Swedish second league Skellefteå again qualified for the highest series and has played in Elitserien since 2006–07. In their first year after promoting from the Swedish second league to Elitserien, Skellefteå AIK became the best newcomer in Elitserien at that time with 73 points in 55 games. At one point during the 2007–08 season, Skellefteå led the league for the first time in 30 years.
They qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1981 as the 8th seed. In the quarterfinals, Skellefteå were beaten by the eventual champions HV71 by 4–1 in games. At the end of the 2008–09 season, Skellefteå qualified for the playoffs again. In game seven, Skellefteå won an overtime game that had gone to the 6th period with a goal by Kimmo Koskenkorva. In the semifinals, Skellefteå fell in four games to Färjestad BK who went on to win the Swedish Championship; the following season, Skellefteå faced Färjestad in the playoffs once again, this time in the quarterfinals. Skellefteå won the series in seven games and went on to play HV71. HV won in five games on their way to become the 2010 champions. Skellefteå had the three highest scoring players in the league in the 2010–11 season – Joakim Lindström, Mikko Lehtonen and David Rundblad. In the playoffs Skellefteå made it to the finals for the first time in 33 years, but were defeated in five games by Färjestad. In the 2011–12 season, Skellefteå would return to the Swedish Championship Finals, where they lost to Brynäs IF in six games.
In the 2012–13 season, the team won the regular season. In the playoffs, Skellefteå once again reached the Finals, where they met their northernmost rival, Luleå HF. Skellefteå swept Luleå in four straight games 4–0 and clinched the Swedish Championship for the first time since 1978, only the second time in club history. Skellefteå finished the playoffs with an impressive 12–1 record, became the first team since 2003 to sweep their opponents in the Finals. In the 2013–14 SHL season, Skellefteå once again won the regular season. In the playoffs, Skellefteå reached the Finals for the fourth year in a row, where they met Färjestad BK. Like in 2013, Skellefteå swept their opponents in the Finals in four straight games 4–0. Skellefteå clinched the Swedish Championship title for the third time in club history, became the first team to defend the Swedish Championship title since Djurgårdens IF did so with their consecutive Swedish Championship titles in 2000 and 2001. Skellefteå AIK became the first team since Brynäs IF in 1976–77 to win consecutive Swedish Championships by not losing a single game in both Finals series.
Their 8–1 crush in game three marked the biggest goal margin in a single Finals game in SHL history. In the 2014–15 SHL season, Skellefteå won their third consecutive regular season trophy. Doing so after having lost 14 players of top European class however, experts were impressed by the consistency of their managing and playing style. Going into the playoffs after their impressive regular season win, Skellefteå once again were huge favorites to win the le mat trophy. Although experts agreed that they were going to face a tougher challenge this year. In the round of quarter finals Skellefteå once again had to face their opponent from the finals of 2012, Brynäs IF. Though Skellefteå did sweep Brynäs in four consecutive quarterfinal games, some people started wondering if the dynasty of Skellefteå was over; those wonderings appeared due to the tightness and scorelines of the quarter final games. In the 2015 semifinals, Skellefteå for the third year in a row had to face Linköpings HC. Once again Skellefteå was going to prove the experts, who predicted a tight and tough series of games, wrong.
With the rou
Oulun Kärpät is a Finnish professional ice hockey team based in Oulu and playing in the top-tier Finnish Liiga. Kärpät have won the Finnish championship title eight times, have been one of the most successful Finnish ice hockey teams in the 2000s and 2010s, it was Wednesday 15.5.1946. Since that day Oulun Kärpät has been official working... ” – Memories of Eero Tauriainen 1946. In the spring of 1946, three young men decided to found a new sports club in Oulu. At the constitutional meeting on May 15, the club was named "Oulun Kärpät 46". At first, Kärpät played its first winter sport was bandy. In the first annual meeting in January 1947, an ice hockey section was established. At the beginning of the new decade, Kärpät was somewhat successful in ice hockey and it became the main sport of the club; the first game at the highest level known as "SM-sarja" was played on the December 4, 1960, against HJK of Helsinki, but the visit to the highest level was short and Kärpät lost their position in the series.
They again lost their position. The third try in 1967–68 did not produce a better performance, as Kärpät lost all their games. From the first years onwards, Kärpät placed emphasis on working with junior players; the team's E-juniors won the first Finnish championship in 1971. When the SM-liiga was founded in August 1975, Kärpät were still playing level below in the first division; the team earned promotion to the elite league after the 1976–77 season. In their debut season in SM-liiga, Kärpät managed to finish seventh out of ten teams. During their second season in the top level in 1978–79, the team struggled and finished last in the regular season, but proved victorious in the relegation league and retained their place in the top league. On the positive side, Kärpät's Kari Jalonen was awarded Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy for the best rookie in league after the season. After having avoided relegation, Kärpät acquired more skilled players, such as Mikko Leinonen; the team's performance improved, in the 1979–80 season Kärpät made it to the playoffs where they proved victorious in the bronze medal game.
This marked the first time. The emergence of young players was continued by Pekka Arbelius, titled rookie of the year. In the following season, 1980–81, Kärpät finished third in the regular series, in the play-offs fought their way to the final series where they would face Tappara. Tappara started the best-out-of-five series in a strong manner, for instance by winning the third game by a score of 13–2. After this devastating loss the series was 2–1 for Tappara. Regardless, the Kärpät head coach Kari Mäkinen managed to boost the team's morale, Kärpät won two consecutive games by scores of 6–1 and 5–2, respectively. Thus, Kärpät celebrated the first title for the franchise; the winning goal was scored by Kari Suoraniemi, Kari Jalonen was named the MVP of the playoffs. Before the 1981–82 season, a number of key players' contracts expired and they decided to continue their careers elsewhere. To illustrate, the team lost key and core players such as Jalonen, Suoraniemi and Kai Suikkanen, as well as cult player Reijo Ruotsalainen.
With a weakened roster, Kärpät had to settle for fifth place. And the following year, they were nearly relegated. During the era of Pentti Matikainen as a head coach, Kärpät remained a championship contender and won bronze medals in three consecutive years. In Matikainen's last season as a coach, in 1986–87, Kärpät somewhat won the regular season, but lost to Tappara in the finals. Matikainen was replaced by Kari Mäkinen in 1987 -- 88. Esko Nokelainen was named to little avail. In the following season, in 1988 -- 89, Kärpät reached Nokelainen was sacked mid-season. Kärpät were relegated from the SM-liiga as they lost to Jokerit in the relegation league; the goal was to rise again shortly. Due to financial constraints, Kärpät went into bankruptcy, but in the fall of 1995, they made it to the first division again. In the first year, they lost in the playoffs; the next year, they went against KalPa for a place in the league, but lost. In the following year, they again lost to KalPa. For the 1998–99 season, Kärpät acquired coach Juhani Tamminen.
After they played well in the regular series, they lost to TuTo in the playoffs. The next year, Kärpät qualified to the SM-liiga by beating Lahti Pelicans in the qualification series; the first season in the elite league was full of ups-and-downs, but Kärpät finished fourth and sixth in successive seasons. They finally made it to the finals in, but lost to Tappara, similar to in 1987. In the 2003–04 season, Kärpät played in the finals against TPS and won their second Finnish Championship. In 2004–05, Kärpät won the Finnish Championship again when they defeated Jokerit in the finals, winning the best-of-five series 3–1, they retained the championship title in the 2006–07 season by beating Jokerit in the finals and winning all their games in the playoffs. The first three championships of the 2000s have been celebrated in Oulu with feasts, each gathering tens of thousands of people to rejoice. In the 2007–08 season, the organization won its second consecutive championship title, the fourth within the last five years, by defeating Espoo Blues in the finals, 4–1.
After a six-year lull, Kärpät returned to the top of Finnish ice hockey under the guidance of Lauri Marjamäki, by winning two consecut