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The celebration in Berlin after Eisbären's 2004-2005 champioship.
Three European champs, three
different paths to the top
By Bill Meltzer | NHL.com Correspondent
Aug. 18, 2006

The 2006-07 regular season is just around the corner in Europe. In most leagues, teams are already playing pre-season games, or "friendlies" as they're sometimes called. Just as in the NHL, European clubs often try to emulate the approach of the previous season's champions as closely as possible, while the defending champs try to stay one step ahead.

Building and sustaining a championship hockey team in a European elite league presents unique challenges that are a little different than trying to repeat as Stanley Cup Champion. In this edition of Across the Pond, we'll look at three defending champions in Europe: Färjestads BK Karlstad of Elitserien in Sweden, HPK Hämeenlinna of SM-Liiga in Finland and Eisbären Berlin of Germany's DEL.