|Current season or competition:
2009–10 KHL season
|Motto||Хоккей – наша игра! (Hockey is our game!)|
|No. of teams||24|
|Country(ies)|| Belarus (1 team)
Kazakhstan (1 team)
Latvia (1 team)
Russia (21 teams)
|Most recent champion(s)||Ak Bars Kazan (1)|
|TV partner(s)||KHL-TV (Russia (as part of the NTV Plus package), International (through KHL's website))
Russia 2 (Russia)
Viasat (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
Nova Sport (Czech Republic, Slovakia)
|Official website||KHL.ru (English)|
|Related competitions||Russian Championship
Minor Hockey League
The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) (Russian: Континентальная Хоккейная Лига, Kontinentalʹnaya Khokkeĭnaya Liga) is an international professional ice hockey league in Eurasia founded in 2008. As of 2009, it is ranked as the strongest hockey league in Europe.
The title of Champion of Russia, regardless of the nationality of the club, the KHL champion title and the Gagarin Cup, named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, are awarded annually to the league champion, following a 16-team playoff at the end of the regular season. Two teams from the KHL were guaranteed qualification into the Champions Hockey League season.
The league was formed in 2008 from a predecessor organization, the Russian Superleague (RSL). The RSL, in turn, was a successor to the Soviet Championship League, which was founded in 1946 with only five teams. The KHL began its operations with 24 teams, 21 of which are based in the Russian Federation with the remaining 3 located in Belarus, Latvia, and Kazakhstan.
Russians constitute a large majority of the players in the KHL because of its origins as the Soviet & Russian national league. A minority of 26.4% of the players are from Eastern European, Northern European, and North American countries, with an increase in North Americans (4.2% in 2009–10) beginning to sign on with clubs as the league gains prominence. In 2009–10, there were 718 players in the league.
Though now not as restrictive in maintaining an exclusively Russian composition of players and teams, Russian teams are still prevented from signing more than five foreign players and can suit up no more than four in any single game. Foreign goaltenders have an additional limit regarding total seasonal ice time.
Prior to the inaugural season, several KHL teams have signed several players from the NHL. A dispute between the two leagues over some of these signings was supposed to have been resolved by an agreement signed on July 10, 2008, whereby each league would honor the contracts of the other, but the signing of Alexander Radulov was made public one day after the agreement (though it was actually signed two days prior to the agreement taking effect), leading to an investigation by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The top five point scoring players in the 2008–09 season were Sergei Mozyakin, Jan Marek, Aleksey Morozov, Danis Zaripov and Kevin Dallman. The top goal scorers were Jan Marek and Pavel Brendl with 35 each, followed by Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov (34). The top plus-minus rating went to Alexei Tereshchenko who was a +41. The top goaltenders (by wins) were Georgi Gelashvili (30), Alexander Eremenko (27), Konstantin Barulin (24), Martin Prusek and Vitaliy Yeremeyev (22).
|Country||Players active (2009–10)||% of non-Russian||% of total league|
|Russia (21 teams in the KHL)||529||/||73.6%|
|Kazahkstan (1 team in the KHL)||30||15.8%||4.1%|
|Belarus (1 team in the KHL)||26||13.7%||3.6%|
|Latvia (1 team in the KHL)||24||12.7%||3.3%|
|TOTAL||718 (189 non-Russian)||100%||100% (26.4% non-Russian)|
During the regular season, each team plays 56 games: four games against each of the teams in their own division (for a total of 20 games) and two games against each of the other teams (for a total of 36 games).
For the 2009–10 season, the play-off structure will be slightly adjusted, to reflect the splitting of the league into two conferences. The eight top-ranked teams in each conference will receive playoff berths. Each conference will play quarterfinals, semifinals and finals before the two conference winner play against each other for the Gagarin Cup. The division winners are seeded 1 and 2 in each conference, based on their ranking relative to the other (like in the NHL). The first playoff round will be best-of-five series, and the final three rounds will be best-of-seven series. After each round, the top remaining seed will always be paired against the lowest remaining seed.
In the play-offs, overtime periods will last 20 minutes or until the sudden death goal. The number of overtime periods is not limited. Teams that failed to enter the playoffs will play their own tournament to determine the KHL junior draft first choice in 2010.
For the 2009–10 season, the teams were geographically aligned to aid travel conditions. The league was divided into a western and an eastern conference, each containing two divisions of six teams. Khimik Voskresensk was replaced by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, keeping the number of teams at 24.
|Chernyshev||Amur||Khabarovsk||Platinum Arena||7,100||1966||2006||Alexei Kopeikin|
|Avangard Omsk||Omsk||Omsk Arena||10,200||1950||1991||Alexander Svitov|
|Barys||Astana||Alatau Sports Palace||5,532||1999||2008||Kevin Dallman|
|Metallurg Novokuznetsk||Novokuznetsk||Kuznetsk Metallurgists SP||8,040||1949||1992||Maxim Galanov|
|Sibir||Novosibirsk||Ice Sports Palace Sibir||7,400||1962||2002||Alexander Boikov|
|Salavat Yulaev||Ufa||Ufa Arena||8,400||1957||1992||Vladimir Antipov|
|Kharlamov||Ak Bars Kazan||Kazan||Tatneft Arena||10,000||1956||1992||Aleksey Morozov|
|Neftekhimik||Nizhnekamsk||SCC Arena||5,500||1968||1995||Andrei Ivanov|
|Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg||Yekaterinburg||KRK Uralets||5,500||2006||2009||Alexander Gulyavtsev|
|Lada Togliatti||Tolyatti||Volgar Sports Palace||2,900||1976||1991||Yuri Petrov|
|Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Magnitogorsk||Magnitogorsk Arena||7,700||1950||1990||Evgeny Varlamov|
|Traktor Chelyabinsk||Chelyabinsk||Yunost Sport Palace||7,500||1947||2006||Andrei Nikolishin|
|Tarasov||Atlant Moscow Region||Mytishchi||Mytishchi Arena||7,000||1953*||Sergei Mozyakin|
|HC MVD||Balashikha||Balashikha Arena||6,000||1949*||2005||Alexei Kudashov|
|Vityaz Chekhov||Chekhov||Ice Hockey Center 2004||3,300||1998*||2005||Chris Simon|
|Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Yaroslavl||Arena 2000||9,000||1949||1987||Ivan Tkachenko|
|Severstal||Cherepovets||Ice Palace||6,000||1956||1989||Alexander Shinin|
|Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod||Nizhny Novgorod||Trade Union Sport Palace||5,500||1947||2007||Alexei Troshchinskiy|
|Bobrov||CSKA Moscow||Moscow||CSKA Ice Palace||5,600||1946||Konstantin Korneev|
|Dynamo Moscow||Moscow||Luzhniki Small Sports Arena||8,700||1946||Alexei Zhitnik|
|Spartak Moscow||Moscow||LDS Sokolniki||5,000||1946||2007||Dmitry Upper|
|SKA Saint Petersburg||Saint Petersburg||Ice Palace||12,300||1946||1992||Maxim Sushinski|
|Dynamo Minsk||Minsk||Minsk-Arena||15,000||2004||2008||Ville Peltonen|
|Dinamo Riga||Riga||Arena Riga||10,300||2008||Sandis Ozoliņš|
An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise relocation. See the respective team articles for more information.
^ 1. Indicates when the club most recently ascended to the top level of ice hockey in Russia
The first KHL season began on 2 September 2008. Winner of the regular season was Salavat Yulaev Ufa with 129 points from 56 games. Top scorer was Atlant's Sergei Mozyakin with 76 points (34 goals and 42 assists). The play-offs produced a major upset as the 16th placed team, Avangard Omsk defeated top seed Ufa in the first round. The Gagarin Cup was won by Ak Bars Kazan who defeated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in a seven games play-off final.
The second season saw several changes, most notably, the division were aligned according to geographical criteria and Khimik Voskresensk was replaced by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. The regular season was again won by Salavat Yulaev Ufa with 129 points from 56 games. They were awarded the first Continental Cup. Top-scorer, as in the previous season, was Sergey Mozyakin with 66 points (27 goals and 39 assists).
The winner of the play-off is awarded the Gagarin Cup, the KHL champion title and the Russian Champion title, regardless of the country the club represents. The team ranked first in the standings after the regular season, i.e. the winner of the regular season, is awarded the Continental Cup (Russian: Кубок Континента, Kubok Kontinenta). The winners of the conference finals are awarded the Eastern Conference Champion Cup (Russian: Кубок Победителю конференции Восток, Kubok Pobeditelyu konferentsii Vostok) and the Western Conference Champion Cup (Russian: Кубок Победителю конференции Запад, Kubok Pobeditelyu konferentsii Zapad).
The KHL presents annual awards to its most successful players. In 2009, a total of 23 trophies in various categories were awarded. Among the winners were Danis Zaripov (regular season MVP), Alexei Morozov (play-off MVP) and Ilya Proskuryakov (rookie of the year).
The KHL also awards Opening Cup annually to the winner of the first game between the Gagarin Cup winner and the runner-up of the previous season.
|Kontinental Hockey League|
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
|Bobrov Division||Tarasov Division||Kharlamov Division||Chernyshev Division|
|Dynamo Moscow||Lokomotiv Yaroslavl||Ak Bars Kazan||Salavat Yulaev Ufa|
|CSKA Moscow||Atlant Moscow Oblast||Metallurg Magnitogorsk||Avangard Omsk|
|Spartak Moscow||Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod||Traktor Chelyabinsk||Barys Astana|
|SKA Saint Petersburg||Severstal Cherepovets||Lada Togliatti||Sibir Novosibirsk|
|Dinamo Riga||HC MVD||Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk||Amur Khabarovsk|
|Dynamo Minsk||Vityaz Chekhov||Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg||Metallurg Novokuznetsk|