The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs is proud to announce two new members, Fehérvár AV19 from Hungary and Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups from France. This means that the E.H.C. Alliance has expanded into two new countries with clubs who have been dominant on their respective domestic scenes.
So just a week after the Belfast Giants became E.H.C. member club #82, Europe’s Alliance for professional hockey clubs ventures into two new countries. This means that the E.H.C. now has 84 member clubs in 16 countries, when taking the freedom to separately count England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“This is important and a very encouraging development for the E.H.C. Alliance and European club hockey as a whole,” said E.H.C. President Marc Lüthi. “Both Hungary and France are countries with considerable ice hockey traditions and both Fehérvár and Grenoble add an important dimension to the Alliance, as it is important that club hockey really develops in those countries leagues,” said Lüthi.
Fehérvár AV19 comes from the city of Székesfehérvár, which traditionally has been Hungary’s strongest hockey centre. The city is located some 65 kilometres southwest of Budapest, midway between the Hungarian capital and the famous Lake Balaton.
Ice hockey has been part of life in Székesfehérvár since 1977. Since then, the City of Kings has celebrated 13 Hungarian championship titles and 10 Hungarian Cup titles. The organization first stepped on the international field just at the end of the 1990s, winning two Interliga championship titles between 2001 and 2005. After winning five consecutive Hungarian championships, the organization entered the Austrian-led Erste BankEishockey Liga (EBEL) in 2007 and became eventually known as Fehérvár AV19.
“We are really excited about this next step,” said club GM Viktor Szelig, the long-time Hungarian international who also spent nine seasons with French club Briançon. “We hope that with our membership we can improve the quality of our club and Hungarian club hockey, and as well contribute to the development of European club hockey,” said Szelig.
The club’s most famous player was Gábor Ocskay, who passed away in 2009. Fehérvár’s home arena is named after the legendary Hungarian international. His tribute arena, nicknamed the Devil’s Cauldron, is packed each night with enthusiastic hockey fans.
Les Brûleurs de Loups (wolf burners) of Grenoble were founded in 1963 and have to date seven national titles. This season’s championship, which came 10 years after the previous, was won after a thrilling seven-game final series against the eternal rival Rouen Dragons. Grenoble trailed 1-0 in game seven going into the final period before Christophe Tartari and Damien Fleury scored to give Grenoble their seventh Ligue Magnus title in the team’s history. The win also qualified the club for the Champions Hockey League in 2019/20 as the French champions.
“This has been an amazing season for our club and we are happy to crown it with earning both the qualification to the CHL and entering the European club alliance,” said club GM Jean-Francois Dufour. “We are proud to become the first French club in the EHC and it is our goal to be active members and take part in the development of European club hockey.”
The most famous hockey product from the 1968 Olympic town is former national team goaltender Cristobal Huet, who spent most of his career in the Swiss league and in the NHL, primarily with the Montreal Canadiens and with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
More recently, Grenoble's Alexandre Texier became the first player to be drafted out of the Ligue Magnus in 2017 when he was taken in the second round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. This season, he made his NHL debut and played several games in the playoffs as well.
The Alliance of European Hockey Clubs is thrilled to welcome Fehérvár AV19 and the Grenoble Brûleurs de Loups to the European club community. Both clubs will be represented at the upcoming European Hockey Awards Dinner and the E.H.C. Annual General Meeting in Prague 11-12 June, a two-day event co-hosted by the E.H.C. and the Champions Hockey League.