Cardiff Devils coach Andrew Lord says he has no preference on who his team could possibly draw in the Champions Hockey League.
The two-time Elite League winning coach is in Copenhagen ahead of tomorrow’s draw and will be one of the guests invited on stage to help pull out the pucks.
And he admits no matter who Devils get, it will be another tough campaign, but one he’s excited to be part of again.
“I don’t have any preference on who we get, but I wouldn’t mind another Swedish team again as they’re considered one of the best leagues in Europe,” he said.
“We feel very fortunate to be representing the Elite League in this competition and we’re looking forward to it again.
“Somehow I’m going to be one of the guys helping to pull the pucks out so I’ve been trying to learn the names, so I hope I don’t mess up too badly.
“There’s really no easy group for us at all, but last year, I didn’t realise until after, we had one of the toughest groups.
“Other coaches were coming up to me and telling me we would find it hard with the teams we got, but we pulled out a couple of wins which was fun.”
The Welsh side impressed on their maiden campaign last year, picking up two wins form their six games, but unfortunately didn’t progress beyond the group stage.
It was a group that contained eventual CHL runners-up Vaxjo Lakers, from Sweden, semi-finalists Bili Tygri Liberec of Czech Republic and Swiss outfit HC Davos.
Devils have already signed four players in their recruitment drive for 2018-19 and they are Mark Richardson, Joey Martin, Joey Haddad and Matt Pope.
Lord is one of five coaches across Europe to be nominated for the Coach of the Year Award, having led Cardiff to a second Elite League title and rtghe play-off championship.
Nominated (in alphabetical order):
Sam Hallam (Växjö, SHL) Moulded Lakers into a superior SHL force, made CHL Final
Andrew Lord (Cardiff, EIHL) Led Devils to league and playoff win
Kai Suikkanen (Bolzano, EBEL) Took over last-placed team mid-season, ended up as champion
Frederik Söderström (Storhamar, GET) Turned pretenders to double-winners in his 1st season
Libor Zábranský (Brno, CZE) Unifying club force, first time in 11 years a Czech team defends title
You can cast your vote for Coach of the Year and for all other awards by going to eurohockeyclubs.com
The winners will be announced and celebrated at the Fenix Outdoor European Hockey Awards Dinner in Prague, Czech Republic on June 12.
Canadian Lord is excited that his Devils team are back at Europe’s top table again and as someone who follows other leagues across the continent, he’s pleased to be among the other top names.
He added: “The whole process from start to finish, from the draw, to meeting those teams at the event and playing them, seeing different countries and taking part, it’s an unbelievable experience.
“Last year, I was like a kid in a candy store to be honest. I’ve always followed other league then to see some of those teams, meeting their coaches and managing directors was great.
“It’s a fun event and everyone’s more relaxed at something like this, where they’ll talk more and go through things.
“To qualify isn’t easy, having to win your own championship, but we’ve been lucky enough to win it two years in a row.
“It’s amazing to be back again and it’s fun we’ve been through it once so we know what to expect this time.”
The Champions Hockey League draw takes place at the Royal Arena, Copenhagen at 3pm UK time and will be shown live on Free Sports TV and CHL platforms.
CHL have confirmed the final rankings ahead of the group stage draw.
Reigning champions JYP Jyväskylä (Finland) are the top ranked team, followed by the national champions of the six Founding Leagues: Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
CHL Group Stage Draw: Pot Allocation
•JYP Jyväskylä (CHLW)
•Växjö Lakers (SWE1)
•Kärpät Oulu (FIN1)
•Kometa Brno (CZE1)
•ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI1)
•Red Bull Munich (GER1)
•HC Bolzano (ITA/EBEL1)
•Djurgården Stockholm (SWE2)
•TPS Turku (FIN2)
•HC Pilsen (CZE2)
•SC Bern (SUI2)
•Eisbären Berlin (GER2)
•Vienna Capitals (AUT/EBEL2)
•Skellefteå AIK (SWE3)
•Tappara Tampere (FIN3)
•Mountfield HK (CZE3)
•EV Zug (SUI3)
•Nuremberg Ice Tigers (GER3)
•Red Bull Salzburg (AUT/EBEL3)
•Malmö Redhawks (SWE4)
•IFK Helsinki (FIN4)
•Oceláři Třinec (CZE4)
•HC Lugano (SUI4)
•Frölunda Indians (SWE5)
•HC05 Banská Bystrica (SVK1)
•Neman Grodno (BLR1)
•Storhamar Hamar (NOR1)
•Cardiff Devils (GBR1)
•Aalborg Pirates (DEN1)
•Rouen Dragons (FRA1)
•GKS Tychy (POL1)
•Yunost Minsk (CCW)
•There will be four pots containing 8 teams each.
•Pot 1: Teams ranked 1-8; Pot 2: Teams ranked 9-16; Pot 3: Teams ranked 17-24; Pot 4: Teams ranked 25-32.
Should a league conflict occur then the club in question will be placed in the next possible group available.
The group stage starts on August 30 and will finish on October 17. The total of 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four and each team plays six games, one home and one away against the other three teams in its group.
First and second-placed teams in each group advance to the play-off stages.
There will be 16 teams in the play-offs.