The 30th season of the German Ice Hockey League starts 109 days after the lost World Cup final. After the Bietigheim Steelers were relegated, the DEL is back to its original size of 14 teams.
Due to the reduction to 14 teams, the main round consists of 52 (instead of the previous 56) match days. After three years, the table will be drawn up again based on points and not based on a point average - the after-effects of the corona pandemic are considered to have been finally overcome. Saturday evening is also a new game date. Top games are played a total of four times on a Saturday at 7 p.m. The Kölner Haie and the Adler Mannheim will start on September 30th.
Will there be another relegation?
Not necessarily and if so, then only one. The bottom team in the table will be relegated if Kassel, Krefeld or Dresden become second division champions in the DEL2. Only these three teams meet the economic requirements for promotion to the DEL. This means that the time after the end of the main round will be a nail-biter for the last team in the DEL. Just like for the Augsburg Panthers last season, who were relegated. Since Ravensburg ended up becoming champions in the DEL2 and didn't meet the requirements for promotion, Augsburg was lucky and continues to play first-class.
Who are the favorites?
The top favorite is the defending champion EHC Red Bull Munich. The Adler Mannheim have the largest budget, but they have already been on a title since 2019. After a disappointing season without playoffs, the Eisbären Berlin also want to be on top again as title holders in 2021 and 2022. The Kölner Haie, runners-up ERC Ingolstadt and the Grizzlys Wolfsburg are also considered ambitious.
Which stars are new?
Mannheim brought the most prominent name into the league: The Eagles expect a lot from national player and two-time Stanley Cup champion Tom Kühnhackl, as well as from ex-NHL striker Linden Vey, who came from Russia. The Eisbären Berlin brought back a runner-up world champion from North America in Kai Wissmann. Red Bull Munich signed former national coach Toni Söderholm for the most successful DEL coach Don Jackson.
Where can you watch the games?
MagentaSport shows all games live. The opening game this Thursday evening between defending champions EHC Red Bull Munich and Düsseldorfer EG (7.30 p.m.) is free to watch. If you want to go beyond that, you have to pay 7.95 euros per month as a Telekom customer or 12.95 euros per month (for non-Telekom customers) for an annual subscription. You can also still see DEL ice hockey on free TV. Servus TV will also show individual DEL games live until the end of the year. However, the Austrian broadcaster will stop linear broadcasting on December 31st.
Can the league benefit from the national team's rise?
Difficult to say. Four months have passed since the exciting World Championships in Finland in May and the silver medal win. The German basketball players have just been and are in focus outside of football after winning the World Cup. “The attention is there,” said DEL managing director Gernot Tripcke, who is also hoping for growth in ice hockey in view of the constant negative headlines in German football.