Kontinental Hockey League

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Kontinental Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
2013–14 KHL season
KHL Shield.svg
Formerly Russian Superleague
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 2008
Commissioner Alexander Medvedev
Motto Хоккей – наша игра! Khokkey - nasha igra! (Hockey is our game!)[1]
No. of teams 28
Country  Russia (21 teams)
 Belarus (1 team)
 Kazakhstan (1 team)
 Latvia (1 team)
 Ukraine (1 team)
 Czech Republic (1 team)
 Slovakia (1 team)
 Croatia (1 team)
Most recent champion(s) Russia Dynamo Moscow (2nd title)
Most titles Russia Ak Bars Kazan,
Russia Dynamo Moscow (2 each)
TV partner(s) KHL-TV (Russia (as part of the NTV Plus package), USA and Canada (part of ViaNetTV),[2] Latvia and international through KHL's website)
Russia 2, Sport 1 (Russian TV channel) (Russia)[3]
Viasat (Finland, Sweden,[3] Norway, Denmark, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)[4]
TV6 (Latvia) (Latvia)
Nova Sport (Czech Republic, Slovakia)[5]
Sport 1, Sport 2 (Czech Rep., Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova)
Sportdigital.tv (Germany)
ESPN2, ESPN3, MSG Network (United States)
ESPN (UK) (United Kingdom, Ireland)
Premier Sports (United Kingdom)
Eurosport Asia-Pacific (Asia,Oceania)
Sportitalia 2 (Italy)
Hockey TV(Ukraine)
DigiSport (Romania)
RDS (Canada)
Netflix (USA, Canada)
Yle (Finland)
Sportklub (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia)
Related competitions Russian Championship
Higher Hockey League (VHL)
Minor Hockey League (MHL)
Official website KHL.ru (English)

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) (Russian: Континентальная хоккейная лига (КХЛ), Kontinental'naya hokkeynaya liga) is an international professional ice hockey league based in Russia and founded in 2008. It is commonly considered to be the strongest hockey league in Europe and Asia, and the second-best in the world.[6]

The league was formed in 2008, from a predecessor organization, the Russian Superleague (RSL). The KHL began its operations with 24 teams, 21 of them from Russia and one each from Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan. After minor changes in the composition of teams and even a reduction to 23 teams for two seasons, the league started to expand to 26 teams in 2012 with the addition of Slovan Bratislava from Slovakia, Lev Prague from Czech Republic and Donbass from Donetsk, Ukraine. In 2013 the league expanded further, both west-ward (with Medveščak Zagreb from Croatia) as well as east-ward (with Admiral Vladivostok at the Pacific coast). Thus, the league currently consists of 28 teams, of which 21 are based in Russia and 7 more are located in Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The winner of the 16-team playoff after the end of the regular season is awarded the Gagarin Cup, named after the first man to reach space and orbit the Earth, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The title of Champion of Russia is given to the highest ranked Russian team.[7]

Russians constitute a majority of the players in the KHL because most teams are located in Russia. Players not from Russia represent a minority of about 40% of the KHL players, and are mostly Central European, Nordic, and North American. In 2013–14, more than 900 players played in the league (see table below).

Despite the word "Continental" being spelled with a C and not a K in the English language, the KHL transliterates the word with a K to distinguish it from numerous leagues that are abbreviated as CHL, such as the Canadian Hockey League and the Central Hockey League, and so that its abbreviation can look similar in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.[citation needed]

Season structure[edit]

Since 2009 the league is divided into East and West conferences. Each conference includes 14 teams in two divisions, 7 teams per division. During the regular season, each team plays 54 games: two games against each of the other teams.

The eight top-ranked teams in each conference receive playoff berths. Within each conference quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are played before the conference winners play against each other for the Gagarin Cup. The division winners are seeded first and second in their conference, based on their regular season record. All playoff rounds are played as best-of-seven series. In each round, the top seeded remaining team is paired with the lowest seeded team etc.[8] In the playoffs, overtime periods last 20 minutes (or until a goal is scored). The number of overtime periods is not limited.

In the 2012–13 season, the Nadezhda Cup (Cup of Hope) was introduced, a consolation tournament for the teams who did not qualify for the playoffs. The winning team in the tournament wins the first overall pick in the KHL Junior Draft. The tournament is intended to extend the season and help maintain interest in hockey in the cities of these teams, and help players of national teams prepare for upcoming World Championship.[9]


Founding (2008)[edit]

The KHL was founded in 2008 with 24 teams, the 20 teams from the last season of the Russian Superleague as well as the champion of the 2007–08 season of the second division. In addition, one team each from Latvia, Belarus and Kazakhstan were included. The teams were divided into 4 divisions, based on the performance in previous seasons. The first season ended in April 2009 with Ak Bars Kazan becoming the first ever winner of the Gagarin Cup.

Introduction of conferences (2009)[edit]

In an effort to reduce the large travel distances for the teams, the second season saw the introduction of two conferences (East and West) and the re-alignment of the divisions according to geographical criteria. In the Gagarin Cup finals, teams from the East dominated with Ak Bars Kazan winning twice and Salavat Yulaev Ufa once.[citation needed]

Merger of two Moscow region teams (2010)[edit]

Before the third season, a new team was created by merging HC MVD with HC Dynamo Moscow to form UHC Dynamo Moscow. Later, the new team was re-branded Dynamo Moscow again.

Yaroslavl air disaster (2011)[edit]

The start of the fourth season was overshadowed by the Yaroslavl air disaster on 7 September 2011 in which almost all members of the team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl lost their lives shortly after take-off for their flight to their season opening game in Minsk. The Opening Cup game in Ufa, which was already under way when news of the disaster arrived, was abandoned and the start of the season postponed by five days. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was forced to withdraw from the KHL season, but later played part of the VHL season and returned to the KHL in 2012. In memory of the disaster, 7 September remains a day of mourning on which no KHL regular season games are held.[10]

Expansion to Central and Northern Europe (since 2011)[edit]

After several failed attempts of teams from Central Europe and Scandinavia to join the KHL, expansion beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union was finally realized in 2011. Lev Poprad, a newly founded team based in Poprad, Slovakia was admitted to the league. But after only one season, Lev was replaced by a team of the same name, Lev Prague, from Prague, Czech Republic, while Slovan Bratislava from Slovakia and Ukraine's Donbass joined the KHL as expansion teams.[11] Lev and Slovan managed to draw considerable public interest and qualified for the play-offs in their first KHL season. In 2013 KHL Medveščak from Croatia joined the league, thus expanding the league even further.[12] In 2013, the Finnish side Jokerit have announced their decision to leave the Finnish SM-liiga and join the KHL in 2014.

NHL lockout players (2012–13)[edit]

The league set up rules for the NHL lockout which lasted from 16 September 2012 to 12 January 2013. According to the special regulations, each KHL team was allowed to add up to three NHL players to its roster, among them at most one foreign player.[13] More than 40 NHL players, the majority of them Russians, played in the KHL during the lockout.

Seasons overview[edit]

Season Gold medal icon.svg Gagarin Cup Winner Silver medal icon.svg Gagarin Cup finalist Continental Cup Winner Top scorer
2008–09 Russia Ak Bars Kazan Russia Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Russia Salavat Yulaev Ufa* (129 points) Russia Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 34 G, 42 A)
2009–10 Russia Ak Bars Kazan Russia HC MVD Russia Salavat Yulaev Ufa (129 points) Russia Sergei Mozyakin (66 points: 27 G, 39 A)
2010–11 Russia Salavat Yulaev Ufa Russia Atlant Moscow Oblast Russia Avangard Omsk (118 points) Russia Alexander Radulov (80 points: 20 G, 60 A)
2011–12 Russia Dynamo Moscow Russia Avangard Omsk Russia Traktor Chelyabinsk (114 points) Russia Alexander Radulov (63 points: 25 G, 38 A)
2012–13 Russia Dynamo Moscow Russia Traktor Chelyabinsk Russia SKA Saint Petersburg (115 points) Russia Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 35 G, 41 A)
2013–14 Russia Dynamo Moscow (115 points) Russia Sergei Mozyakin (73 points: 34 G, 39 A)

*: In the first season, Salavat Yulaev Ufa was the winner of the regular season, but the Continental Cup was not yet awarded.


KHL match

Though now not as restrictive in maintaining an exclusively Russian composition of players and teams, Russian teams are still not allowed to sign more than five foreign players, while non-Russian teams must have at least five players from their respective country. Foreign goaltenders on Russian teams have a limit regarding total seasonal ice time.[14]

Prior to the inaugural season, several KHL teams signed several players from the NHL.[15] 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),[16] leading to an investigation by the International Ice Hockey Federation.[17] On October 4, 2010, the conflict between the leagues was settled when both signed a new agreement to honor one another's contracts.[18]

KHL players are represented by the Kontinental Hockey League Players' Trade Union.[19]

Notable active players[edit]

The top five point scoring players in the 2011–12 season were Alexander Radulov (63 pts), Tony Mårtensson and Vadim Schipachev (59 pts each), Brandon Bochenski (58 pts) and Kevin Dallman (54 pts). The top goal scorers were Brandon Bochenski with 27, followed by Alexander Radulov and Danis Zaripov (25 each), Maxim Pestushko (24) and Tony Mårtensson with 23. The top plus-minus rating went to Tony Mårtensson who was a +35. The top goaltenders (by wins) were Michael Garnett (29), Jakub Štěpánek (21), Rastislav Staňa and Chris Holt (20 each) and Karri Rämö (19).

Nationalities of players[edit]

During the current season, players representing 16 nations have played at least one game in the KHL.[20] A player's nationality is for various reasons sometimes ambiguous. For the table presented below, the nationality "is determined based on the last country that the player represented in international competition. If a player has never played for a national team, usually the country of birth is chosen as the player nationality, unless there is strong evidence indicating otherwise."[21] For players born in former Soviet republics, the situation is often more complex due to dual citizenship and naturalization. Therefore, a list of players born in Ukraine gives case-by-case details for some of those players. In some cases, players can change their nationality registration with the league on a year-by-year basis, and their nationality with the league may not match that of their International Ice Hockey Federation registration.

Country Players active
Players active
Russia Russia (21 teams) 541 552
Canada Canada 38 67
Czech Republic Czech Republic (1 team) 46 46
Slovakia Slovakia (1 team) 51 42
Belarus Belarus (1 team) 30 40
Finland Finland 40 37
Latvia Latvia (1 team)a 35 32
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan (1 team) 30 29
Sweden Sweden 24 21
United States United States 13 19
Ukraine Ukraine (1 team)b 11 12
Norway Norway 3 3
Germany Germany 1 3
Croatia Croatia (1 team) 3
Slovenia Slovenia 2
Denmark Denmark 1
TOTAL 863 909

a - For further information, see: List of Latvians in the KHL

b - For further information, see: List of Ukrainians in the KHL


Western conference teams (Divisions: Red pog.svg: Bobrov, Gold pog.svg: Tarasov, Steel pog.svg: Moscow and Moscow Oblast: see separate Map)
Moscow Oblast teams (Divisions: Red pog.svg: Bobrov, Gold pog.svg: Tarasov)

a HC Lada Togliatti formerly played in Kontinental Hockey League from 2008/09 to 2009/10.

An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise relocation. See the respective team articles for more information.


Single season records[edit]

Career records[edit]

All-time team records[edit]

Since its foundation in 2008, 32 different clubs have played in the KHL, and 28 of them have at least once qualified for the playoffs. Of the current 28 teams, only two have not yet played in the playoffs. The table gives the final regular-season ranks for all teams, with the playoff performance encoded in colors. The teams are ordered by their championship results.

 [a]: includes record of Dynamo Moscow before the merger with HC MVD in 2010

 [b]: did not participate in the 2011-12 season due to the deadly air disaster on September 7, 2011 that killed the entire team

Attendance Statistics[edit]

Total and average attendance in seasons.

Season Average Attendance
2008-09 5,298
2009-10[24] 5,474
2010-11 5,785
2011-12[25] 5,891
2012-13 6,106

Trophies and awards[edit]

Gagarin Cup

The winner of the playoff 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[26] (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).[27]

The KHL presents annual awards to its most successful players. In 2013, a total of 23 trophies in various categories were awarded. Among the winners were Sergei Mozyakin (regular season MVP), Oleg Znarok (coach of the year for the second time in a row) and Valeri Nichushkin (rookie of the year).[28]

The KHL also awards the Opening Cup annually to the winner of the first game between the Gagarin Cup winner and the runner-up of the previous season. On September 10, 2011, three days after the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster, the KHL head office has decided to honor the deceased in the 2011 Opening Cup.[29]

Season Opening Cup Winner Nadezhda Cup Winner Gold Stick Award (MVP)
2008–09 Russia Salavat Yulaev Ufa not contested Russia Danis Zaripov
2009–10 Russia Ak Bars Kazan Russia Alexander Radulov
2010–11 Russia Dynamo Moscow Russia Alexander Radulov
2011–12 Russia Salavat Yulaev Ufa Russia Alexander Radulov
2012–13 Russia Dynamo Moscow Latvia Dinamo Riga Russia Sergei Mozyakin
2013–14 Russia Dynamo Moscow Russia Avangard Omsk

All-Star Game[edit]

The Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game is an exhibition game held annually in January or February. Two competing teams consist of the best league's players, which are voted on by fans.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Новый игровой ролик КХЛ "Пробка"" (in Russian). khl.ru. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  2. ^ "Crossing the Atlantic". khl.ru. 2010-04-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Kontinental Hockey League And TV Channel Sport Ratified An Agreement On KHL Championship Games Broadcast In 2009/2010 Season". en.khl.ru. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Kontinental Hockey League Signed An Agreement With Viasat". khl.ru. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Jágr a KHL budou v televizi. Práva koupil Nova sport". Týden.cz. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  6. ^ "World of difference for KHL?". iihf.com. 2012-05-07. 
  7. ^ "About the KHL". khl.ru. 
  8. ^ "KHL Championship – Russian Ice Hockey Championship 2012/2013. Stage 2 Guidelines". khl.ru. 2012-06-27. 
  9. ^ "Cup of Hope". khl.ru. 22 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Day of Remembrance in honor of Lokomotiv". 2013-09-07. 
  11. ^ "Lev from Slovakia to Prague". IIHF.com. 2012-03-30. 
  12. ^ "Medveščak to join the league from 2013-14 season". khl.ru. 2013-04-29. 
  13. ^ "Door opens for NHL men". khl.ru. 2012-09-17. 
  14. ^ "Навстречу Федерации, во имя Сочи". khl.ru. 2012-04-11. 
  15. ^ Emery signs one-year deal with Russian team - tsn.ca
  16. ^ Radulov on His Return to Russia - NHL FanHouse
  17. ^ Predator inks debatable deal - iihf.com
  18. ^ "NHL signs agreement with KHL". ESPN.com. 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2010-10-05. 
  19. ^ "Kontinental Hockey League Players' Trade Union" (in Russian). Kontinental Hockey League. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "KHL Totals by Nationality – 2013-14 Stats". quanthockey.com. 
  21. ^ "QuantHockey FAQ: How is player nationality determined?". quanthockey.com. 
  22. ^ http://www.quanthockey.com/khl/nationality-totals/khl-players-2013-14-stats.html
  23. ^ a b c d "Kontinental Hockey League Records". 
  24. ^ Attendance figures in European hockey leagues 2009-2010
  25. ^ Regular-Season average attendance Europe & Asia 2011-2012
  26. ^ "Ufa’s first trophy". khl.ru. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  27. ^ "Новые трофеи Лиги". khl.ru. Retrieved 4 March 2010. 
  28. ^ "High Five. Season closing ceremony". KHL.ru. 2013-05-22. 
  29. ^ Официальное заявление КХЛ, 4 сентября 2012 года (ru)

External links[edit]