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. 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.

Season structure

During the regular season, each of the 12 teams play 50 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.

Current teams

Import players

The current gentlemen's agreement allows teams to dress a maximum of four 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 Josh Jooris 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 than four import players per game in order to reduce the salaries of star Swiss players and the others want to keep that limit to four players to allow more Swiss players to play on special units and have top roles on their teams.

Media coverage

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. Games are available with German, French and Italian commentaries.

The SRG SSR airs regular season games highlights after each round and two selected games per playoff night in all three languages. Starting with the 2020-21 season, the SSR is allowed to broadcast 6 live regular season games per season. 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

Swiss National Championship Serie A (1909–1937)

Swiss International Championship Serie A (1916–1933)

See also

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article National League (ice hockey), released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.