Swedish Hockey League
|Current season or competition:
2013–14 SHL season
|Formerly||Elitserien (until 2013)|
|No. of teams||12|
|Most recent champion(s)||Skellefteå AIK (2nd title)|
|TV partner(s)||TV4 Group|
The Swedish Hockey League, officially the SHL (Swedish: "Svenska hockeyligan", until 2013 known as Elitserien, the Swedish Elite League or the SEL) is a professional ice hockey league composed of twelve teams in Sweden. It is the highest-level ice hockey league in Sweden and, based on average player salaries in 2006, is ranked as the fourth highest paying professional ice hockey league in the world (behind the National Hockey League, Russian Superleague (now the KHL), and the Czech Extraliga).
The league started under the name Elitserien and its inaugural season was played in 1975–76. The Swedish ice hockey championships have been played in various forms since 1922. In June 2013, the league was renamed Swedish Hockey League (SHL; in Swedish: Svenska hockeyligan).
As of 2010–11, the SHL is the world's most evenly matched professional ice hockey league. In the 2011–12 season, the SHL was the most attended league in Europe, averaging 6,385 spectators per game. However, the following season saw a 10.5% attendance drop to 5,717 spectators per game; as a result, the SHL fell down to fourth place in the European attendance rankings.
A large majority of the players in the SHL, approximately 70% during the 2006–07 season, constitutes Swedes. According to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association (SIHA) there were 99 foreign players in the teams' rosters, and a total of 127 foreigners registered with the twelve SHL teams, at the start of the 2006–07 season.
- 1 History
- 2 Game
- 3 Teams
- 4 Season structure
- 5 Outdoor games
- 6 Notable players
- 7 Trophies and awards
- 8 Television and radio
- 9 Previous winners
- 10 Video games
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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. After the 1951 championship, the Division I was the official Swedish Championship until the Elitserien was formed in 1975.
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.
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. 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 overtime periods occur until one team scores. While a playoff game can theoretically continue forever, only one game in Sweden has ever surpassed four full overtime periods, and no SHL games have surpassed three full overtime periods. The longest SHL game was played on 23 March 2007 between Leksands IF and Färjestad BK in Game 1 of the Semifinals. 6,012 spectators saw Andreas Karlsson score the game-winning goal after 59 minutes of overtime (almost three full overtime periods). See Longest ice hockey games in Sweden for other games.
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.
The SHL originated in 1975 with ten teams, and after expansion in 1987, the league 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. 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.
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, Djurgården, Linköping 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. However, this never happened, and the plans to unite with other European leagues were officially put down in November 2011.
There has also been extensive discussion about the number of teams in the SHL. Currently the SHL league has 12 teams. However, there is general agreement among hockey experts that the league needs to be expanded by at least two more teams. (The second tier league HockeyAllsvenskan currently has 14 teams.) They mean that, apart from just the economical situation for some of the clubs, the competition from HockeyAllsvenskan has shown that more teams are needed in the top-tier league SHL. Hockeyligan has stated that they are looking into ways of improving the SHL, including but not limited to an expansion of the league to 14 teams.
|Brynäs IF||Gävle||Läkerol Arena||8,585|
|Färjestad BK||Karlstad||Löfbergs Arena||8,647|
|Leksands IF||Leksand||Tegera Arena||7,650|
|Linköpings HC||Linköping||Cloetta Center||8,500|
|Luleå HF||Luleå||Coop Arena||6,300|
|Modo Hockey||Örnsköldsvik||Fjällräven Center||7,600|
|Skellefteå AIK||Skellefteå||Skellefteå Kraft Arena||6,001|
|Växjö Lakers||Växjö||Vida Arena||5,700|
|Örebro HK||Örebro||Behrn Arena||5,150|
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 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, and receives the Le Mat Trophy.
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 (approx. 150,000 USD) as a bonus. The six highest-ranked teams by points qualify directly for the playoffs. The four teams ranked 7–10 play a best-of-three series and battle for the two remaining playoff spots. 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 the SHL. Before the 2013–14 season, the eight highest-ranked teams qualified for the playoffs.
If two or more teams end up tied in points, the seeds are determined by the following tiebreaker format:
- Best goal difference
- Most goals scored
- Head-to-head results between the tied teams
Starting in the 2013–14 season, the four teams ranked 7–10 in the regular season play a best-of-three series and battle for the two remaining playoff spots. The 7th-ranked team faces the 10th-ranked team, and the 8th-ranked team faces the 9th-ranked team. The 7th-ranked team and the 8th-ranked team will receive home-ice advantage and play two of the three games at their home venue in their series if necessary. The winners of the two best-of-three series take the two remaining playoff spots.
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. In the first round of the playoffs, or the quarterfinals, the top seed faces the lowest-ranked winner of the two best-of-three series (eighth seed, ninth seed or tenth seed); the 2nd-ranked seed faces the other winner of the two best-of-three series; the 3rd-ranked seed faces the 6th-ranked seed; and the 4th-ranked seed faces the 5th-ranked 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. Before the 2013–14 season, the top three teams got to choose their opponents in the quarterfinals.
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 first and third, 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.
Since 2009, the league hosts an outdoor game in the regular season in December every year. From 2009 through 2012 it was called the SEL Outdoor Classic, but since 2013 it's called the SHL Outdoor Classic due to the league name change in June 2013. The first outdoor game was played on 28 December 2009, between Frölunda HC and Färjestad BK at Ullevi. Frölunda came out on top with a 4–1 victory. 31,144 spectators saw the game, setting a new record for the largest attendance at an ice hockey league match in Sweden. The following year, Färjestad and Frölunda met again in an outdoor game, this time in Karlstad. Färjestad won the game 5–2 in front of 15,274 spectators. The 2013 outdoor game was played on 14 December 2013, between Frölunda HC and Skellefteå AIK at Gamla Ullevi. The game was promoted as "Julmatchen" (English: The Christmas game) and was won by Skellefteå 4–1 in front of 13,452 spectators.
The top five point-scoring forwards for the 2012–13 season were Bud Holloway (71 points), Carl Söderberg (60), Joakim Lindström (54), Pär Arlbrandt (53), and Broc Little (46). The top goal-scorer, and thus the Håkan Loob Trophy winner, was Carl Söderberg (31 goals). The top three point-scorers on defence were Chris Lee (41), Ryan Gunderson (36), and Richie Regehr (33). The top three goaltenders by save percentage were Alexander Salák (.939), Christian Engstrand (.936), and Bernhard Starkbaum (.933).
The top five career scorers in the SHL are Fredrik Bremberg (581 points), Johan Davidsson (561), Jörgen Jönsson (535), Jan Larsson (527) and Anders Carlsson (526). The top career goal scorers are Lars-Gunnar Pettersson (271 goals), Magnus Wernblom (266) and Håkan Loob (263). Mikael Håkanson, David Petrasek and Roger Åkerström are the leaders in the number of SHL games played, with Håkanson and Petrasek both having played 808 regular-season games and Åkerström 804.
Trophies and awards
The winning team of the SHL playoffs is named Swedish Champions and 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; for the 2005–06 season the award was given to Kenny Jönsson in the Swedish second-tier 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 the SHL.
Starting in 2010, an annual playoff MVP was acknowledged. The playoff MVP award was later renamed the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy.
Television and radio
SHL games are aired nationally in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, by C More. One game from each round is selected and shown on C More Sport, and simulcasted in 1080i high definition on C More Sport HD. The selected game is also aired on Mobile TV, available to Telenor customers in Sweden with 3G phones. All 330 regular season games are available on pay-per-view, via cable and satellite for C More customers, and also available via C More's streaming Internet TV. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, SHL games were being broadcast in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet.
Sveriges Radio (SR) is the official radio broadcaster of the SHL. Each round is covered by Sportextra in SR P4 with reports from all arenas; all games are available in their entirety on SR's internet radio and to mobile phones via 3G.
Previous SHL regular season winners
Previous SHL playoff winners (Swedish Champions)
Teams from the league are playable in the video games Elitserien 95 for Sega Mega Drive, Elitserien 96 for Sega Mega Drive and Elitserien 2001 for PC. They also appear in EA Sports' NHL series since NHL 2004.
- List of SHL seasons
- Marathon SHL standings
- List of Swedish ice hockey champions
- List of ice hockey leagues in Sweden
- "SHL: Elitserien och Svenska Hockeyligan blir SHL". SHL.se. 2013-06-17.
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- "SC Bern 10th time on top". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- "Swiss on top of Europe". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
- Bodin, Uffe (2013-03-13). "Det svenska publikraset". Hockeysverige (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-03-13.
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- Nordström, Maria (2011-04-12). "Planer på Europaliga skjuts upp ytterligare". Sundsvalls Tidning (in Swedish). st.nu. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "HV71 – Seriesegrare 2007/2008" (in Swedish). Svenska Hockeyligan AB. 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- Johanna (2013-06-13). "Nytt format på SM-slutspelet i ishockey". Hockeyligan (in Swedish). Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- Gullbrand, Johannes (2013-12-14). "Skellefteå segrare i julmatchen". shl.se (in Swedish). Swedish Hockey League. Retrieved 2013-12-14.
- Karlberg, Peter (2013-05-30). "Frölunda HC möter Skellefteå AIK utomhus på Gamla Ullevi". shl.se (in Swedish). Swedish Hockey League. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "Player statistics for the 2012–13 season". Swedish Hockey League. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "Goaltender statistics for the 2012–13 season". shl.se. Swedish Hockey League. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- All-time player statistics at Eliteprospects.com. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "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.
- "Årets Rookies" (in Swedish). Hockeyligan.se. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
- "Telenor sänder Elitserien live i mobiltelefonen" (in Swedish). Privata Affärer. 2007-09-20. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
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- Östberg, Anders (2005-09-12). "Sveriges Radio satsar på elitserien" (in Swedish). Hockeymagasinet. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elitserien.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Swedish Hockey League.|
- Swedish Hockey League official site
- Official statistics – Official standings and statistics from the Swedish Ice Hockey Association
- Eliteprospects – Swedish Hockey League news in English
- Eurohockey – Elitserien info in English