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2011–12 Elitserien season
Elitserien logo
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1975
No. of teams 12
Country(ies) Flag of Sweden Sweden
Most recent champion(s) Färjestad BK
TV partner(s) TV4 Group
Official website

Elitserien, (also known as Swedish Hockey League or SHL, as it is often unofficially called in English) is a professional ice hockey league composed of twelve teams in Sweden. It is the highest-level ice hockey league in Sweden[1] 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).[2] As of 2011, Elitserien is the world's most evenly matched professional ice hockey league.[3]

The first season under the name Elitserien was played in 1975–76. The Swedish ice hockey championships have been played in various forms since 1922.

A large majority of the players in Elitserien, approximately 70% during the 2006–07 season,[4] constitutes Swedes. According to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association there were 99 foreign players in the teams' rosters, and a total of 127 foreigners registered with the twelve Elitserien teams, at the start of the 2006–07 season.[5]


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.[6]

Elitserien under its current name started on October 5, 1975, in which each team played a total of 36 games.[7] Originally the league consisted of 10 teams but expanded in 1987 with an additional two teams.


Main article: Ice hockey

Each Elitserien 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.[8] 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.[9]

Elitserien 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.[10]


Elitserien coaches 2011

Head coaches of all twelve Elitserien teams, photographed in September 2011.

Elitserien 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 Elitserien season, while the other four are demoted to HockeyAllsvenskan. Theoretically, there is a possibility that two 'new' teams will play in Elitserien at the beginning of each season.

Counting from the start of Elitserien in 1975, Färjestad BK is the most successful team with eight Swedish Championship titles, commonly called SM-guld in Swedish. The second most successful team is Djurgårdens IF with six championship titles.[11] 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.[12]

The future of Elitserien 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 Elitserien 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 Elitserien league after the 2009–10 season; they terminated their shareholders' agreements with Hockeyligan, who governs the Elitserien league.[13][14] However, this never happened, and the plans to unite with other European leagues were officially put down in November 2011.[15][16]

There has also been extensive discussion about the amount of teams in the Elitserien. Currently the Elitserien league has 12 teams. However, there has been good 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 Elitserien.[17][18] Hockeyligan has stated that they are looking into ways of improving the Elitserien, including but not limited to an expansion of the league to 14 teams.[19]

2011–12 season Edit

Team City Arena Capacity
AIK Stockholm Hovet1 8,094
Brynäs IF Gävle Läkerol Arena 8,265
Djurgårdens IF Stockholm Hovet1 8,094
Frölunda HC Gothenburg Scandinavium 12,044
Färjestad BK Karlstad Löfbergs Lila Arena 8,647
HV71 Jönköping Kinnarps Arena 7,038
Linköpings HC Linköping Cloetta Center 8,500
Luleå HF Luleå Coop Arena 6,000
Modo Hockey Örnsköldsvik Fjällräven Center 7,600
Skellefteå AIK Skellefteå Skellefteå Kraft Arena 6,001
Timrå IK Timrå E.ON Arena 6,000
Växjö Lakers Växjö Vida Arena 5,229

^ The local derby games between AIK and Djurgårdens IF are played in the Ericsson Globe, which has a capacity of 13,850 spectators.

Season structureEdit

The Elitserien 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 seasonEdit

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 Swedish krona (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 Elitserien 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 Elitserien season, while the other four are demoted to HockeyAllsvenskan.

Notable playersEdit

See also: List of current Elitserien team rosters

The top five point scoring forwards for the 2010–11 season were Joakim Lindström, Mikko Lehtonen, Martin Thörnberg, Byron Ritchie and Niklas Andersson. The top goal scorer was Mikko Lehtonen.[21] The top three scorers on defence were David Rundblad, Magnus Johansson, and Elias Fälth[21] and the top three goaltenders (by save percentage) were Mark Owuya, Alexander Salák, and Viktor Fasth.[21]

Trophies and awards Edit

At the end of the Elitserien 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 Elitserien. Guldpucken is awarded annually to the ice hockey player of the year in Sweden. It is not necessarily awarded to a player in Elitserien; 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.[22][23]

Television and radioEdit

Elitserien games are aired nationally in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, by Canal+. One game from each round is selected and shown on Canal+ Sport 1, and simulcasted in 1080i high definition on Canal+ Sport HD. The selected game is also aired on Mobile TV, available to Telenor customers in Sweden with 3G phones.[24]

All 330 regular season games are available on pay-per-view,[25] via cable and satellite for Canal+ customers, and also available via Canal+'s streaming Internet TV. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout Elitserien games were being broadcasted in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet.

Sveriges Radio (SR) is the official radio broadcaster of Elitserien.[26] 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.[27]

Previous winnersEdit

Previous Elitserien regular season winnersEdit

Previous Elitserien playoff winners (Swedish Champions)Edit

See also: List of Swedish ice hockey champions


  1. 2008 European League Ranking. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2009-04-14.
  3. Elitserien most evenly matched. International Ice Hockey Federation (2011-07-08). Retrieved on 2011-07-23.
  4. Wennerholm, Mats (2007-02-01). Nationalitet på spelarna i ligan (Swedish). Retrieved on 2007-03-28.
  5. Utlänningsrekord i elitserien (Swedish). (2007-01-17). Retrieved on 2007-03-12.
  6. Nu börjar jakten på Le Mat (Swedish). (2007-03-06). Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved on 2007-03-12.
  7. Elitserien (Swedish). Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved on 2007-03-12.
  8. Kap 1 ALLMÄNNA BESTÄMMELSER (Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
  9. De längsta matcherna genom tiderna (Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved on 2007-03-07.
  10. MARKERINGAR och MÅTT (Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-12-30. Retrieved on 2007-03-12.
  11. Svenska Mästare (Swedish). (2007-01-14). Retrieved on 2007-03-12.
  12. Visste du att... (Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association. Archived from the original on 2006-10-10. Retrieved on 2007-03-14.
  13. KHL Owner Medvedev Interested in Buying NHL Team. The Canadian Press. Retrieved on 2009-05-05.
  14. Elitserieklubbar vill starta liga med KHL (Swedish). Aftonbladet (2009-04-28). Retrieved on 2011-11-01.
  15. Pettersson Kymmer, Peter (2011-11-16). Skippar Europaligan (Swedish). Göteborgsposten. Retrieved on 2011-11-18.
  16. Svenska planer på Europaliga läggs ned (Swedish). Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. (2011-11-17). Retrieved on 2011-11-18.
  17. Nyström, Magnus (2011-03-30). Dags för 14 lag i elitserien (Swedish). Expressen. Retrieved on 2011-11-18.
  18. Elitserien kan utökas till 14 lag (Swedish). Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. (2011-01-29). Retrieved on 2011-11-18.
  19. Nordström, Maria (2011-04-12). Planer på Europaliga skjuts upp ytterligare (Swedish). Sundsvalls Tidning. Retrieved on 2011-11-18.
  20. HV71 – Seriesegrare 2007/2008 (Swedish). Svenska Hockeyligan AB (2008-03-08). Retrieved on 2008-03-09.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 - Statistik. (2011-04-15).
  22. Patric Hörnqvist kandidat till Årets Rookie (Swedish). Swedish Ice Hockey Association (2007-02-28). Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  23. Årets Rookies (Swedish). (2007-01-17). Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  24. Telenor sänder Elitserien live i mobiltelefonen (Swedish). Privata Affärer (2007-09-20). Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
  25. Alla matcher i elitserien visas i tv (Swedish). Expressen (2007-08-09). Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  26. Östberg, Anders (2005-09-12). Sveriges Radio satsar på elitserien (Swedish). Hockeymagasinet. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.
  27. Brohult, Linus (2006-11-01). Elitserien och Allsvenskan via 3G-radio (Swedish). Mobil. Retrieved on 2008-06-28.

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