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What's the Spengler Cup?

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The other holiday hockey tournament also starts on Boxing Day as well. But, uh, what is it?

Hockey Canada

Coming into more prominence these days with social media making it easier to report on everything and anything, and hockey websites loving the "Team Canada" clicks it gets them (HI! HELLO!) more and more people are hearing about the Spengler Cup. However, many people still ask "what's the Spengler Cup?". I'll be taking you through the history, format, and famous players who have played in the tournament.

History, or What is it, tell me again?

The Spengler Cup is an invitation only tournament hosted by HC Davos, in Switzerland, each year. Dr. Carl Spengler created the tournament to promote unity and contact between nations who were on opposing sides during the first world war. Always hosted in Davos, Switzerland, it was played outdoors each year until 1979. The weather always played a factor before hand, including the final game being postponed a month due to warm weather in 1958, this leadto the 1960 tournament being played on artificial ice for the first time.

Top European club teams have made appearances in the tournament as well as many national teams. School teams were invited, such as Oxford University who won the inaugural Spengler Cup. North American teams have participated as well, the last being the AHL's Rochester Americans in 2013.

The tournament is now played in the beautiful Vaillant Arena:

The arena was built next to the original outdoor site of the Spengler Cup which is still in use today:

Format, or Okay, how is it played?

The current format sees six teams invited and they are split into two groups of 3, "Cattini" and "Torriani". The groups and schedule are unknown until the first day of the tournament. Each group plays a round robin to determined standings. a win gets you 3 points, an overtime loss 1 point, and a regulation loss zero. The top team in each group gets a bye to the semi-finals.

The second place in Cattini plays the third place from Torriani, second in Torriani plays third in Cattini. The winners then move on to play the group leaders, and those winners meet for the championship game at Noon on New Years Eve.

One rule that makes things different from most tournaments is that the club teams are allowed to bring in "reinforcements" for the tournament. HC Davos, the host, often does this to ensure the local fans can see their team go far in the tournament.

Stats, Facts, Schmacts

The host, HC Davos has the most wins of all time in the tournament with 15 championships, and 40 appearances in the finals. Runner up to Davos is Team Canada, with 12 wins in 21 appearances.

NHL lockout years have been a boon to the tournament recently, as NHL stars go play in Europe, they will give club teams and Team Canada a boost in quality of play, TV ratings, and attendance.

In 2005 many active NHL players saw action in the tournament. HC Davos boasted Jonas Hiller in goal, and Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton, and Rick Nash up front. Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the eventual winners, would play NHLers like Sergei GoncharPatrik Elias, and  Petr Sýkora. Team Canada opted not to include NHL players on the roster, but still made it to the finals.

In 2012 another lockout season Team Canada decided to take advantage. Patrice Bergeron , Jason Spezza, Devan Dubnyk, and Ryan Smythe were some fo the players to wear the red and white. Club Teams were also given a boost. HC Davos put Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, and Joe Thoronton on the front lines. Canada would win the tournament final 7-2 over HC Davos.

2015: Will I know any of these guys?

This year the six teams are: HC Davos (NLA-Switzerland), Team Canada, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (KHL-Russia), HC Lugano (NLA-Switzerland), Adler Mannheim (DEL-Germany), and Jokerit Helsinki (KHL-Finland).

There are plenty of former NHLers on each team, lots of ex-Maple Leafs as well:

Jokerit: Peter Regin (Blackhawks), Brandon Kozun (Maple Leafs), Tim Kennedy (Sabres), Jesse Joensuu (Islanders), Niklas Hagman (Maple Leafs)

Adler Mannheim: Glen Metropolit (Canadiens), Brandon Yip (Coyotes)

HC Lugano: Tim Stapleton (Maple Leafs)

HC Davos: Devin Setoguchi (Flames)

Team Canada is usually stocked with former North American pros, this year has a couple ex-Maple Leafs on the roster: Keith Aulie and Matthew Lombardi. Joining them will be Matt D'Agostini (Canadiens), Cory Conacher (Senators), Derek Roy (Sabres), and others, including Sam Carricks little brother, Tevor.

Wait, can I watch it?

Yep. TSN will be showing the games on TSN2/5 in Canada, with the final being shown on TSN1/3/5. Team Canada's first game will be shown on December 26th at 2PM.

Enjoy the holidays, and I hope you know a bit more about thsoe games that are on in between the World Juniors.