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Disabled Veterans Hockey League

The DVHL Mission

To provide an organized venue for disabled veterans so that we can expand the healing properties of the Pittsburgh Warrior program by establishing a competitive, fun, safe and sportsman like hockey league - a league where winning is fun but not more important than balanced competition, thriving in a heeling veteran environment, and a sportsman frame of mind.

It is a thinking-players league where the proper attitude is an absolute imperative and where aggressive play and physical play of any sort will not be tolerated.  Every player on every team will get equal ice time regardless of playing ability and teams will be balanced through a salary cap draft.

For many players, this takes a keen level of awareness to think and control one's actions beyond the hockey reflexes that may have been learned over many years in more traditional leagues.


DVHL Philosophy


First and foremost, all players invited to play in the DVHL will have a positive attitude and no history of disruptive play.  The league requires no checking and no bad attitude!


The DVHL is for all level of players.  Prior to the draft of the first season, players will fill out a self-evaluation of their skill level that determines their ability from 1 being an absolute beginner, to 100 being an NHL level player.  The DVHL board will, when necessary, tweak these self-evaluations based on performance on the ice.  Drafts will have a salary cap (meaning if a 100-point player is chosen by a Team Captain, then a much lower quality player will need to be selected to ensure that the salary cap is maintained).

3. attendance

There will be 12 skaters per team therefore attendance is VERY important!  If you feel you cannot attend 75% of your games overall, this league may not be for you. 

4. qualification

All participants must be a registered member of the Pittsburgh Warriors and have a current USA Hockey Number.  Hockey skills are not a requirement.  If a Veteran needs equipment and has never played before, the league will provide everything needed, to include training in the game of hockey.

5. team selection/

Our number one priority about the teams is to make all teams balanced in every season to keep the games competitive.  Drafts will be done by the 4 selected team captains, managed by the DVHL board. 


The draft will begin with a salary cap. Captains will be provided a list of players with their skill points and the skill salary cap at least 1 week prior to the draft so that they can build their draft strategy.  TCs will draft goalies first, then offensive players, then defensive players.  The goal of the draft is for the TCs to stay as close to but under the salary cap as possible.  At the end of the draft, TCs will have 2 weeks to trade up and down with other teams to meet the requirement to be under the cap.  Once open treading is complete, rosters will be finalized.  While we want players to play with their friends, the league is more in favor of balance than anything else.  The reason for this is that it dramatically reduces the animosity that can build up between team rivalries. 


At the conclusion of each draft and the trade deadline, the committee will give the final OK on the teams in an effort to make them as balanced as possible. We will try to have a total of 12 skaters per team for increased ice time in most seasons.  Seven forwards and four defensemen per team and a goalie.  We have 4 teams in the league.

6. usa hockey rules/
penalty limits/

We take this no contact and penalty limit idea very seriously.  We expect veterans in the league to self police and help those having issues with anxiety and anger to recover. 


The league will permanently suspend any player from the league for what it determines is unacceptable behavior that shows no effort to fix.  The refs call a very tight version of USAH rules.  With the addition of two major penalties:  1- Running over the goalie 2- Egregious stick penalties, tripping, slew footing, etc.  Any player getting 12 minutes of penalties must be suspended for the next game, according to the committee.  Any player getting 20 minutes or more in one season will be suspended for the next 6 games even if it flows over into the next season.  No questions asked.

7. playoffs/post

season games

All teams, regardless of place in the standings, will get at least one post-season game.  With 4 teams, Number 4 will play Number 1 and Number 2 will play Number 3 seed to vie for the Pittsburgh Warrior Cup.  We are excited to have playoffs.  We all know that sometimes players can get a little more aggressive during the playoffs.  We will continue to have playoffs so long as the games are played the same way the regular season games are played.  The PW Cup will be maintained by the winning TC and returned to the league at the beginning of the next season.

8. cost

All costs to the program will be covered by the Pittsburgh Warriors.  Due to the higher level refs we hire, the limited amount of skaters on the team, and because we are not an in-house league, players should understand how unique an opportunity this is.  

9. games

We expect to play 4 games per month per team.  There will be 4 seasons per year. We also have a goal to keep all game start times no later than 10:00 pm.

10. shifts

In order to keep the game at a fast pace and also to be fair with ice -time, we recommend 60-75 second shifts.  Staying out too long only tires you out and further aggravates the line behind you.  Who in turn, returns the favor, subsequently aggravating you.  Then on and on we go!  SKATE FOR 60 AND GET OFF and CHANGE WITH YOUR LINEMATES AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME.

11. referees

12. subbing program

We hand pick the best refs we can get. Please treat them with respect.

Due to our small rosters, we employ a sub program for players who prefer to play only occasionally and to give prospects a chance to sample the league without committing.



The DVHL will launch its first season in November of 2022.  Pittsburgh Warriors Team Program leadership will run the league with the Chairman of the Board operating as the Commissioner of the league, President of the Warriors as the Deputy Commissioner of the league, the Vice President for the Team as the Vice President of Hockey Operations, and the Treasurer as Vice President of Player Development.  Any other positions will be designated as required.  The DVHL will play it’s opening games in the PPG Arena.  All subsequent league games will be held in the Hunt Armory on Sunday evenings until it closes in March.  The league will then move to a local rink that can provide the best ice price, quality of ice, and times.  Some of the specific objectives of the DVHL include: 


Utilize the uniqueness of a Service-Disabled hockey league to promote heeling through hockey, provide the team and camaraderie of a Veteran locker room, and create the brain to body connection so that veterans can heal. 


The DVHL is an independent hockey league connected with the Pittsburgh Penguins and part of the Pittsburgh Warriors program.

The ability to allow all levels to play so that we can heal Vets through Hockey.  Although other leagues set limitations on the skill levels of their players, we will not.  Our goal is to use the sport of hockey to heal veterans in need.  To create the brain to body connection that promotes healing, and to build a safe space where Veterans can participate in something worthy together.

Minimal contact and
no aggressive play

The DVHL will adhere strictly to USA Hockey rules.  We understand that Service-Disabled Veterans come with service related issues that can manifest on the ice.  The league will do everything possible to help a veteran fix the issue to include providing off the ice assistance.  




more ice time


The DVHL will contract directly with a select, small number of qualified referees. This is a critically important part of being able to enforce the no contact / no aggressive play policy as well as maintaining consistent officiating throughout the league.

This objective is #1 in priority but is intentionally listed fifth because objectives #2, 3 & 4 above contribute directly to a safer hockey experience. 

DVHL rosters will be limited to 12 skaters. One of the great accomplishments of the USL was limiting rosters to 12 skaters. Almost everyone agrees that two lines, i.e. ten skaters is optimal and no one likes to float or have floaters go through the lines.

Our relationship with the Pittsburgh Penguins affords us the opportunity to have a home rink – Hunt Armory.  And when this rink becomes permanent, it will be our permanent home ice.  Because we are independent, we will also be able to shop for best prices, times and quality of ice when the Armory is closed. 

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