International Hockey Wiki
Swedish Hockey League
2015–16 SHL season
Swedish Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1975
Inaugural season 1975–76
No. of teams 14
Country(ies) Flag of Sweden Sweden
Most recent champion(s) Växjö Lakers (1st title)
TV partner(s) TV4 Group
Official website

The SHL (or Swedish Hockey League, Swedish: Svenska hockeyligan) is a Swedish ice hockey league, and the highest division of the Swedish ice hockey system. The league currently consists of 12 teams, though an expansion to 14 teams is planned for the 2015–16 season. The league was founded in 1975, and while Swedish ice hockey champions have been crowned through various formats since 1922, the title, as well as the Le Mat Trophy, have been awarded to the winner of the SHL playoffs since the league's inaugural 1975–76 season.

As of 2010–11, the SHL was the world's most evenly matched professional ice hockey league.[1] During the 2011–12 season, the SHL was the most well attended hockey league in Europe, averaging 6,385 spectators per match,[2] however in 2013–14, the SHL was third best in Europe, with an attendance average of 5,978.[3]

The league was founded in 1975 as Elitserien (in English often called the Swedish Elite League or SEL[4]), and initially featured 10 teams, though this was expanded to 12 for the 1987–88 season. The league was renamed the SHL in 2013,[5] and in 2014, a number of format changes were announced, including an expansion to 14 teams to be finalized prior to the 2015–16 season, and a new format for promotion from and relegation to HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier league.[6]


The Swedish ice hockey championships was awarded for the first time in Swedish history in 1922, only two years after ice hockey was introduced in Sweden by the American film director Raoul Le Mat. IK Göta won the first championships final.[7]

Elitserien started on October 5, 1975, in which each team played a total of 36 games.[8] Originally the league consisted of 10 teams but expanded in 1987 with an additional two teams.

On 17 June 2013, the league was renamed "Svenska hockeyligan", since this would allow for an easy English translation ("Swedish Hockey League") and a common abbreviation between the two languages ("SHL"), all of which was considered to make up a better brand identity to invest in.[5][9][10]


Each SHL regulation game is an ice hockey game played between two teams and is 60 minutes long. The game is composed of three 20-minute periods with an intermission of a maximum of 18 minutes between periods.[11] At the end of the 60-minute regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, overtime ensues to force a winner. During the regular season, overtime is a five-minute, four-player on four-player sudden death period, in which the first team to score a goal wins the game. If a game still is tied after the overtime period, a shootout will decide the game. In a shootout, the team that scores the most penalty shots out of three attempts wins the game. If the game is still tied after the first three penalty-shot rounds, a sudden death shootout will decide the game, meaning that the first team to miss a penalty shot (while the other team scores) loses the game.

In the playoffs, an unlimited number of sudden-death 20 minute five-on-five periods occur until one team scores. While a game can theoretically continue forever, only a handful of games have ever surpassed four overtime periods, and none have gone beyond six.[12]

SHL games are played on a hockey rink, which is rectangular ice rink with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall. It measures 30 by 60 meters (98.42 by 196.85 ft), conforming to international standards.[13]


SHL originated in 1975 with ten teams, and after expansion in 1987 currently consists of twelve teams. The two lowest ranked teams after the regular season have to play in a regulation series called Kvalserien together with four teams from the second tier league HockeyAllsvenskan. The top two teams of Kvalserien qualify for the next SHL season, while the other four are demoted to HockeyAllsvenskan. Theoretically, there is a possibility that two 'new' teams will play in SHL at the beginning of each season.

Counting from the start of the SHL in 1975, Färjestad BK is the most successful team with nine Swedish Championship titles, commonly called SM-guld in Swedish. The second most successful team is Djurgårdens IF with six championship titles.[14] Counting from 1922, when the first Swedish championships were played, Djurgårdens IF is the most successful team with sixteen championship titles, followed by Brynäs IF with twelve and IK Göta with nine.[15]

The future of the SHL has been uncertain, especially its relation to ice hockey in the rest of Europe. In 2009, Håkan Loob, the general manager of Färjestad BK, sent a letter to Alexander Medvedev, the owner and president of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, on behalf of five SHL teams – Färjestad, Frölunda, Djurgårdens IF Hockey , Linköpings HC and HV71 – that were reportedly "interested in discussing the future of European hockey". It was believed that these five teams had intended to leave the SHL league after the 2009–10 season; they terminated their shareholders' agreements with Hockeyligan, who governs the SHL league.[16][17] However, this never happened, and the plans to unite with other European leagues were officially put down in November 2011.[18][19]

Team City Arena Capacity
Brynäs IF Gävle Gavlerinken Arena 8,585
Djurgårdens IF Stockholm Hovet 8,094
Frölunda HC Gothenburg Scandinavium 12,044
Färjestad BK Karlstad Löfbergs Arena 8,647
HV71 Jönköping Kinnarps Arena 7,000
Karlskrona HK Karlskrona Telenor Arena Karlskrona 3,464
Linköpings HC Linköping Saab Arena 8,500
Luleå HF Luleå Coop Norrbotten Arena 6,300
Malmö Redhawks Malmö Malmö Arena 13,000
Modo Hockey Örnsköldsvik Fjällräven Center 7,600
Rögle BK Ängelholm Lindab Arena 5,150
Skellefteå AIK Skellefteå Skellefteå Kraft Arena 6,001
Växjö Lakers Växjö Vida Arena 5,700
Örebro HK Örebro Behrn Arena 5,150

Season structure[]

The SHL season is divided into a regular season from late September through the beginning of March, when teams play against each other in a pre-defined schedule, and a playoffs from March to the beginning of April, which is an elimination tournament where two teams play against each other to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The final remaining team is crowned the Swedish champion, or Svenska mästare in Swedish.

Regular season[]

The regular season is a round-robin, where each team plays 55 games in an unbalanced schedule. Points are awarded for each game, where three points are awarded for a win, two points for winning in overtime or shootout, one point for losing in overtime or shootout, and zero points for a loss in regulation time. At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points is crowned the league champion and is awarded a prize sum of 1,000,000 SEK[20] (approx. 150,000 USD) as a bonus. The eight highest ranked teams by points qualify for the playoffs. The two lowest ranked teams after the regular season have to play in the relegation and promotion series Kvalserien in order to qualify for the next season of Elitserien.

If two or more teams end up tied in points, the seeds are determined by the following tiebreaker format:

  1. Best goal difference
  2. Most goals scored
  3. Head-to-head results between the tied teams


The SHL Playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle to win a best-of-seven series in order to advance to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or quarterfinals, consists of the first seed choosing which team to play against from the seventh or eighth seed; the second choosing from the remaining two lowest seeded; the third choosing between the remaining two lowest seeded after second's pick; and the fourth playing against the sole remaining team. In the second round, the semifinals, the teams are re-seeded, with the top remaining seed playing against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining teams pairing off. In the third round, the finals, the two remaining teams face each other.

In each series, the higher-ranked team of the two will have home-ice advantage. Four of the seven games are played at this team's home venue — the second and fourth, and, when necessary, the fifth and seventh games — with the other games played at the lower-ranked team's home venue.


The two lowest ranked teams after the regular season have to play in a regulation series called Kvalserien together with four teams from the second tier league HockeyAllsvenskan. The top two teams of Kvalserien qualify for the next SHL season, while the other four are demoted to HockeyAllsvenskan.

Trophies and awards[]

At the end of the SHL playoffs the Swedish Champions are awarded the Le Mat Trophy. There is only one trophy that is awarded to players based on their statistics during the regular season; the Håkan Loob Trophy for the goal-scoring leader.

One of the most prestigious individual awards is Guldhjälmen, which is awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player; the voting is conducted by the players in the SHL. Guldpucken is awarded annually to the ice hockey player of the year in Sweden. It is not necessarily awarded to a player in the SHL; season 2005–06 the award was given to Kenny Jönsson in the Swedish second highest ice hockey league HockeyAllsvenskan. The award Årets Rookie (Rookie of the Year) is awarded annually by Svenska Spel and Svenska Hockeyligan to the best rookie player in Elitserien.[21][22]

Previous winners[]

Previous SHL regular season winners[]

See also: List of SHL seasons

Previous SHL playoff winners (Swedish Champions)[]


  1. "Elitserien most evenly matched". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-07-23. 
  2. "SC Bern 10th time on top". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  3. Merk, Martin. "Swiss fans flock to arenas". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  4. Meltzer, Bill (2013-06-17). "World Junior hosts boast rich hockey heritage". Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "SHL: Elitserien och Svenska Hockeyligan blir SHL". 2013-06-17.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Renamed Swedish Hockey League" defined multiple times with different content
  6. "SHL och HockeyAllsvenskan utvecklar elithockeyn". HockeyAllsvenskan. 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  7. "Nu börjar jakten på Le Mat" (in Swedish). 2007-03-06. Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  8. "Elitserien" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  9. Aftonbladet: Bekräftat: Elitserien byter namn. 17 June 2013.
  10. Skellefteå AIK: Elitserien och Svenska Hockeyligan blir SHL. 17 June 2013.
  11. "Kap 1 ALLMÄNNA BESTÄMMELSER" (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  12. "De längsta matcherna genom tiderna" (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  13. "MARKERINGAR och MÅTT" (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  14. "Svenska Mästare" (in Swedish). 2007-01-14. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  15. "Visste du att..." (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-10-10. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  16. "KHL Owner Medvedev Interested in Buying NHL Team". The Canadian Press. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  17. "Elitserieklubbar vill starta liga med KHL" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2011-11-01. 
  18. Pettersson Kymmer, Peter (2011-11-16). "Skippar Europaligan" (in Swedish). Göteborgsposten. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  19. "Svenska planer på Europaliga läggs ned" (in Swedish). Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  20. "HV71 – Seriesegrare 2007/2008" (in Swedish). Svenska Hockeyligan AB. 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  21. "Patric Hörnqvist kandidat till Årets Rookie" (in Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. 2007-02-28. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  22. "Årets Rookies" (in Swedish). 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 

External links[]

European Ice Hockey Leagues
International leagues

Alps Hockey League - Balkan Ice Hockey League - BeNe League - Kontinental Hockey League - MOL Liga

National leagues

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Defunct leagues

Soviet Union - Russia - Czechoslovakia - Yugoslavia - West Germany - East Germany - Ireland - Luxembourg - Malta - Portugal - Alpenliga - Interliga - Inter-National League - North Sea Cup - Panonian League - Eastern European - Balkan League - Baltic League - Carpathian League - Slohokej Liga

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