Europe’s Champions Hockey League is making some modifications to the rule book for how penalties will be handled in the 2023-24 season.

From the CHL:

With the aim of developing the sport of ice hockey and its future, as well as increasing the overall excitement for fans, the CHL Sport Committee has discussed a variety of potential on-ice rule innovations over the last couple of weeks and months. After the evaluation of various options, the selection was narrowed down to three innovative rule changes which will change the game, add an extra layer of excitement, but not undermine credibility.

The league will be making three changes to goal scoring related to penalty time: 

  • Penalties will still be assessed when a goal is scored on a delayed penalty
  • Minor penalties will be served for the full two minutes
  • Shorthanded goals will end a minor penalty  

Champions Hockey League CEO Martin Baumann spoke about the rule book modifications for next season. 

“We’ve come up with three simple, but efficient changes that have high potential to add extra excitement to the game,” said Baumann.  “I think we’ve managed to come up with changes that have the right balance of innovation, excitement and credibility. It will be interesting to see how they change the game.”

Let’s take a look at the details of those changes. 


Penalties will still be assessed when a goal is scored on a delayed penalty

This is currently how things are handled in the NCAA; a goal scored on the delayed penalty does not wash out the penalty called. The offending team is still assessed a penalty, with the opponent – who just scored – getting a power play. 

The NHL, AHL, ECHL, IIHF, and many other organizations eliminate the upcoming penalty on a goal; many don’t even record that a penalty even took place. The delayed penalty goal wipes out all record of any possible infraction ever taking place for Hockey Canada, the IIHF, and North American pro leagues.

A minor penalty will be served even if a goal is scored while a delayed penalty is pending.

The CHL is looking for this change to help boost goal scoring as well as to properly punish penalized players. 


Minor penalties will be served for the full two minutes

Everything old is new again.  This is how it once was in the National Hockey League up until 1956.  Players will be required to sit for the full two minutes, with teams getting the full time with the man advantage, regardless of how many goals are scored.  This is how major penalties are currently handled.  Obviously, this puts a greater significance on each penalty, as power plays are more valuable both in terms of potential goals scored as well as eating up the full two minutes on the clock.

A team which caused a minor penalty will remain shorthanded even if the opposing team score a goal. Consequently, the penalised player must stay in the penalty box for the entire duration of the minor penalty. 

The CHL feels that this will help increase goal scoring, while also remaining consistent with using the same approach for major and minor penalties. It also keeps the punishment of a full two minutes for a penalized player – in most cases. 

The league also added a rule change that could potentially shorten that penalty time…


Shorthanded goals will end a minor penalty 

Here’s an interesting one.  This change incentivises the shorthanded team to consider offense, instead of just defending.  Why kill off the full two minutes when you can wipe out the penalty completely with a goal?  Of course, there’s the risk that doing so might open things up a bit for the opposing power play – which appears to be exactly what the CHL intends, as they support “stimulating risk taking of the shorthanded team resulting in more excitement.”   

Here’s the rule:

If a shorthanded team score during a minor penalty, the penalty against will end.

A nice get-out-of-jail early card for the penalized team, for sure.  With the prior two changes focused on ensuring that penalized players serve their entire sentence, it’s curious to see the addition of a rule to reduce their time in the box.  The push here is clearly to increase scoring on both sides of a man-advantage situation. 


“The process to develop rule innovations was part of an overall strategy review in which the relevant stakeholders decided that the CHL shall project its capacity for innovation from other areas to the game and consider new or different rules and implement them as a first mover,” said Baumann. “I’m very satisfied with the outcome.”

“Since the CHL is a pan-European competition which teams play in addition to their national leagues, it was important to create rules that can be implemented without significant effort regarding training and education of game officials, teams and other relevant parties. All three changes are non-intrusive and very easy for everyone to understand.”


The Champions Hockey League’s 2023-24 Season

The CHL’s upcoming season begins in August. The 24 participating teams have been aligned into four groups. 

Group A: Tappara, Ilves, Red Bull Munich, Växjö Lakers, Red Bull Salzburg, Geneva-Servette

Group B: Lukko, EHC Biel-Bienne, Ocelari Trinec, ERC Ingolstadt, HC Bolzano, Skellefteå AIK

Group C: Pelicans, HC Inssbruck, Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, Färjestad, Dynamo Pardubice, Adler Mannheim

Group D: HC Kosice, Aalborg Pirates, Vitkovice Ridera, Stavanger Oilers, Rouen Dragons, Belfast Giants

Teams in each group will play each other, with the top 16 teams advancing to the playoffs based on the overall rankings at the conclusion of the regular season.   The championship game is slated for February 20.


It’ll be interesting to see how the rules impact the game — and how the teams adapt their approaches to make the most of the changes.  We’ll find out when the puck drops in August.