The Polska Ekstraliga w hokeju na lodzie is the top hockey league in Poland. At the moment there are seven clubs, all of them in the southern part of the country, most of them clustered in Upper Silesia. There have been Polish hockey championships since 1927.
Normally the league has eight clubs, and each team plays a 42-game season. The top four enter the playoffs. Two best-of-seven semifinals and a best-of-seven final determine the playoff champion. There is also a best-of-seven series for bronze. The lower four clubs engage in best-of-seven playdowns to determine which one will be relegated to the Polish second-tier, called 1 Liga. Last year Podhale Nowy Targ, historically the winningest club in Polish hockey, was relegated.
This year, with the withdrawl of one club partway through the schedule, the system has been revised. Come playoff time, the top club will receive a bye to the semifinals. The other six clubs will compete in three quarterfinals. I presume this means there will be no relegation and the top 1 Liga club at the end of the season (probably Podhale) will become the eighth Ekstraliga club next year.
There is also the Polish Cup (Puchar Polski), which involves the Ekstraliga and select 1 Liga clubs. Competition begins in September, and goes through a group stage, quarter finals, semifinals, and ends with the final game in late December. The present competition began in 2001. Sanok won last year.
The Ekstraliga clubs are:
KS Cracovia. Founded in 1923. Nine-time Polish champions. The gap between their 1949 and 2006 championships beats the NY Rangers' 54 years. Their rink, the Sztuczne lodowisko im. Adama "Rocha" Kowalskiego holds 2,514 fans. Colours: white, red and black.
JKH GKS Jastrzębie. Orange, black and white. Founded 1963. They play at the Jastor, with seating for 1,986. Jastrzębie-Zdrój was formerly a spa town before coal mining took over, and was the site of pro-Solidarity demonstrations in 1980.
GKS Katowice. Six-time Polish champions, mainly in the 1960s. Yellow, green and black. They play at the Spodek or Satelita, which is shaped like a UFO and can hold 11,500.
TH Unia Oświęcim. Founded 1946. Eight-time Polish champions, including a run of seven years, from 1998 to 2004. Blue and white. The Hala Lodowa MOSiR can hold 3,500.
KH Sanok. Last year's league champion. They wear red, white and blue, plus a lot of black. Arena Sanok seats 3,000. Sanok is in the southeast corner of Poland. [Wojtek Wolski of the Washington Capitals has signed with Sanok.]
KH Zagłębie Sosnowiec. Five-time Polish champions. Green, red and white. They play at Stadion Zimowy (capacity 4,000) in Sosnowiec.
GKS Tychy. Founded in 1971, they were 2005 league champs. Krzysztof Oliwa and Mariusz Czerkawski started out with Tychy. Stadion Zimowy w Tychach holds 2,700. Colours: green, black and red. Tychy is in Upper Silesia.
KS Toruń HSA started the season but withdrew in October.