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Kontinental Hockey League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kontinental Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2020–21 KHL season
KHL logo shield 2016.svg
FormerlyRussian Superleague
SportIce hockey
PresidentAlexei Morozov
MottoХоккей – наша игра! Khokkey – nasha igra! Jääkiekko on meidän peli! (Hockey is our game!)[1]
No. of teams23
Most recent
CSKA Moscow (1st title)
Most titlesAk Bars Kazan (3)
TV partner(s)

The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) (Russian: Континентальная хоккейная лига (КХЛ), Kontinental'naya hokkeynaya liga) is an international professional ice hockey league founded in 2008. It comprises member clubs based in Belarus (1), China (1), Finland (1), Latvia (1), Kazakhstan (1), and Russia (18) for a total of 23. It is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in Europe and Asia, and second in the world behind North America's National Hockey League.[6][7] The KHL has the third-highest average attendance in Europe with 6,121 spectators per game in the regular season,[8] and the highest total attendance in Europe with 5.32 million spectators in the regular season.[9]

The Gagarin Cup is awarded annually to the league's playoff champion at the end of each season. The title of Champion of Russia is given to the highest-ranked Russian team.[10]



Ak Bars Kazan after winning the Gagarin Cup in 2009
Ak Bars Kazan after winning the Gagarin Cup in 2009

The league formed from the Russian Superleague (RSL) and the champion of the 2007–08 season of the second division, with 24 teams: 21 from Russia and one each from Belarus, Latvia, and Kazakhstan. The teams were divided into four divisions, based on the performance in previous seasons.[citation needed]

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 suspended. In memory of the disaster, 7 September remained a day of mourning on which no KHL regular season games took place,[11] until after the 2017–18 KHL season.

Journalist Vsevolod Kukushkin acted as the first press secretary for the league, after it evolved from the Superleague.[12]

Team changes

Finnish team Jokerit joined the league in 2014.
Finnish team Jokerit joined the league in 2014.

In the 2009–10 season, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg joined the KHL and Khimik Voskresensk was transferred to a lower league. Next season, Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk joined the league.

After several attempts by 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 Praha, from Prague, Czech Republic, while Slovan Bratislava from Bratislava, Slovakia and Ukraine's Donbass from Donetsk joined the KHL as expansion teams for the 2012–13 season.[13] Lev and Slovan qualified for the playoffs in their first KHL season.

In 2013, Medveščak from Zagreb, Croatia, previously playing in the Austrian Hockey League, and Russian expansion team Admiral Vladivostok joined the league, thus expanding the league even further.[14] The league comprised 28 teams during the 2013–14 season, of which 21 were based in Russia and 7 located in the other countries.

In 2014, Finnish team Jokerit from Helsinki, Lada Togliatti (which previously played in the league), and newly created team HC Sochi joined the league.[15] However, HC Donbass did not play in the league for the 2014–15 season, due to the political instability in Ukraine, but had intended to rejoin later.[16] Two other teams, Lev Praha and Spartak Moscow, also withdrew from the 2014–15 season due to financial problems.[17][18]

Prior to the 2015–16 season, Atlant Moscow Oblast withdrew from the KHL due to financial issues, while Spartak Moscow returned after a one-year hiatus.[19]

The newly created Chinese club HC Kunlun Red Star from Beijing was admitted for the 2016–17 season.[20]

Prior to the 2017–18 season, Medveščak Zagreb withdrew from the league to rejoin the Austrian league and Metallurg Novokuznetsk was sent down to the VHL.[21]

After the end of the 2018–19 season, HC Slovan Bratislava withdrew from the KHL due to financial issues to rejoin the Slovak Tipsport Liga.[22]

Season structure

Original logo in Latin script and Cyrillic script until 2016

Since 2009, the league has been divided into East and West conferences. In the current season, both conferences include 12 teams divided into two divisions of 6 teams. Each team plays four games against each division opponent (20), three games against each non-division conference opponent (18), and two games against each non-conference opponent (24) for a total of 62 games.[23]

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.[24]

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 Championships.[25]


Western conference teams (Divisions: Red pog.svg: Bobrov, Gold pog.svg: Tarasov, Steel pog.svg: Moscow and Moscow Oblast: see separate Map)
Moscow and Moscow Oblast teams (Divisions: Red pog.svg: Bobrov, Gold pog.svg: Tarasov)
Division Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach Captain
Western Conference
Bobrov Jokerit Helsinki Finland Helsinki Hartwall Arena 13,349 1967 2014 Finland Lauri Marjamäki Finland Marko Anttila
Severstal Cherepovets Russia Cherepovets Ice Palace 5,583 1956 2008 Russia Andrei Razin Russia Yuri Trubachev
SKA Saint Petersburg Russia Saint Petersburg Ice Palace 12,300 1946 2008 Russia Valeri Bragin Russia Evgeny Ketov
HC Sochi Russia Sochi Bolshoy Ice Dome 12,000 2014 Belarus Alexander Andriyevsky Russia Yuri Alexandrov
Spartak Moscow Russia Moscow CSKA Arena 12,100 1946 2008 Latvia Oleg Znarok Russia Anatoli Nikontsev
Vityaz Moscow Oblast Russia Podolsk Vityaz Ice Palace 5,500 1996 2008 Russia Mikhail Kravets Russia Alexander Semin
Tarasov CSKA Moscow Russia Moscow CSKA Arena 12,100 1946 2008 Russia Igor Nikitin Russia Sergei Andronov
Dinamo Minsk Belarus Minsk Minsk-Arena 15,086 2004 2008 Belarus Mikhail Grabovsky Canada Rob Klinkhammer
Dinamo Riga Latvia Riga Arēna Rīga 10,300 2008 Latvia Pēteris Skudra Latvia Lauris Dārziņš
Dynamo Moscow Russia Moscow VTB Arena 10,495 1946 2008 Russia Vladimir Krikunov Russia Vadim Shipachyov
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Russia Yaroslavl Arena 2000 9,070 1959 2008 Belarus Andrei Skabelka Vacant
Eastern Conference
Kharlamov Ak Bars Kazan Russia Kazan TatNeft Arena 8,895 1956 2008 Russia Dmitri Kvartalnov Canada Justin Azevedo
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg Russia Yekaterinburg KRK Uralets 5,545 2006 2009 Canada Bill Peters Russia Pavel Datsyuk
Metallurg Magnitogorsk Russia Magnitogorsk Arena Metallurg 7,704 1950 2008 Russia Ilya Vorobiev Russia Sergei Mozyakin
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk Russia Nizhnekamsk SCC Arena 5,500 1968 2008 Russia Vyacheslav Butsayev Russia Aleksandr Osipov
Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod Russia Nizhny Novgorod Trade Union Sport Palace 5,500 1947 2008 Canada David Nemirovsky Russia Anton Shenfeld
Traktor Chelyabinsk Russia Chelyabinsk Traktor Ice Arena 7,500 1947 2008 Russia Anvar Gatiyatulin Russia Sergey Kalinin
Chernyshev Amur Khabarovsk Russia Khabarovsk Platinum Arena 7,100 1966 2008 Russia Pavel Torgayev Czech Republic Michal Jordán
Avangard Omsk Russia Omsk Balashikha Arena (temporary) 5,678 1950 2008 Canada Bob Hartley Russia Alexei Emelin
Barys Nur-Sultan Kazakhstan Nur-Sultan Barys Arena 11,502 1999 2008 Kazakhstan Yuri Mikhailis Canada Darren Dietz
Red Star Kunlun China Beijing
(Russia Mytishchi)
Mytishchi Arena[26] 7,000 2016 Russia Alexei Kovalev Canada Brandon Yip
Salavat Yulaev Ufa Russia Ufa Ufa Arena 8,070 1957 2008 Finland Tomi Lämsä Russia Grigori Panin
Sibir Novosibirsk Russia Novosibirsk Ice Sports Palace Sibir 7,420 1962 2008 Russia Nikolai Zavarukhin Russia Konstantin Alexeyev

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


KHL match Lev Praha vs. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in O2 Arena, Prague

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 countries. Foreign goaltenders on Russian teams are subject to a limit regarding their total seasonal ice time.[27]

Prior to the inaugural season, several KHL teams signed several players from the NHL.[28] A dispute between the two leagues over some of these signings was supposed to have been resolved by an agreement signed on 10 July 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),[29] leading to an investigation by the International Ice Hockey Federation.[30] On 4 October 2010, the conflict between the leagues was settled when both signed a new agreement to honor one another's contracts.[31]

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.[32] More than 40 NHL players, the majority of them Russians, played in the KHL during the lockout.

KHL players are represented by the Kontinental Hockey League Players' Trade Union.[33]

Nationalities of players

During the current season, players representing 16 nations have played at least one game in the KHL.[34] 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".[35] 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. Non-Russians represent about 30-35% of the KHL players, and are mostly Central European, Nordic, and North American. In 2015–16, more than 950 players played in the league (see table below).[citation needed] Russian teams are limited to a maximum of 5 foreign players per squad. limit on foreigners in the KHL

Country (current number of teams) Players active
Players active
Players active
Players active
Players active
Players active
Players active
Belgium Belgium 1
Canada Canada 36 69 56 41 52 53 61
China China (1 team) 3 2
Croatia Croatia 3 2 2 7 1 1
Czech Republic Czech Republic 46 47 29 35 35 33 28
Denmark Denmark 1 2 4 3 5 6
Finland Finland (1 team) 40 37 50 47 51 42 45
France France 1 1 2 3
Germany Germany 1 3 3 1
Italy Italy 1 2
Israel Israel 1
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan (1 team) 30 29 28 36 40 38 34
Latvia Latvia (1 team) 35 34 29 34 33 34 34
Lithuania Lithuania 1
Norway Norway 3 3 3 1 1
Russia Russia (19 teams) 540 573 594 634 679 663 605
Slovakia Slovakia 51 43 32 27 28 24 24
Slovenia Slovenia 2 4 4 4 4 3
Sweden Sweden 24 22 28 27 23 25 25
Switzerland Switzerland 1
Ukraine Ukrainea 11 12 3 3 3 1
United States United States 13 20 27 21 23 20 20
Total 863 938 936 957 1,027 913 918

Trophies and awards

Gagarin Cup
Gagarin Cup

The winner of the playoff is awarded the Gagarin Cup. The highest placed Russian team is awarded the title of the Russian champion. The team ranked first in the standings after the regular season, i.e. the winner of the regular season, is awarded the Continental Cup[43] (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).[44]

The KHL presents annual awards to its most successful players. 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 10 September 2011, three days after the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash, the KHL head office decided to honor the deceased in the 2011 Opening Cup.[45] The League gives the Andrey Starovoytov Award annually to its referees of the year, also called the "Golden Whistle".[46]

Seasons overview

Season Teams
Gold medal icon.svg
Gagarin Cup Winner
Silver medal icon.svg
Gagarin Cup finalist
Final score Continental Cup Winner Top scorer
2008–09 24 Ak Bars Kazan Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 4–3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa* (129 points) Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 34 G, 42 A)
2009–10 24 Ak Bars Kazan HC MVD 4–3 Salavat Yulaev Ufa (129 points) Sergei Mozyakin (66 points: 27 G, 39 A)
2010–11 23 Salavat Yulaev Ufa Atlant Moscow Oblast 4–1 Avangard Omsk (118 points) Alexander Radulov (80 points: 20 G, 60 A)
2011–12 23 Dynamo Moscow Avangard Omsk 4–3 Traktor Chelyabinsk (114 points) Alexander Radulov (63 points: 25 G, 38 A)
2012–13 26 Dynamo Moscow Traktor Chelyabinsk 4–2 SKA Saint Petersburg (115 points) Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 35 G, 41 A)
2013–14 28 Metallurg Magnitogorsk HC Lev Praha 4–3 Dynamo Moscow (115 points) Sergei Mozyakin (73 points: 34 G, 39 A)
2014–15 28 SKA Saint Petersburg Ak Bars Kazan 4–1 CSKA Moscow (139 points) Alexander Radulov (71 points: 24 G, 47 A)
2015–16 28 Metallurg Magnitogorsk CSKA Moscow 4–3 CSKA Moscow (127 points) Sergei Mozyakin (67 points: 32 G, 35 A)
2016–17 29 SKA Saint Petersburg Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4–1 CSKA Moscow (137 points) Sergei Mozyakin (85 points: 48 G, 37 A)
2017–18 27 Ak Bars Kazan CSKA Moscow 4–1 SKA Saint Petersburg (138 points) Ilya Kovalchuk (63 points: 31 G, 32 A)
2018–19 25 CSKA Moscow Avangard Omsk 4–0 CSKA Moscow (106 points) Nikita Gusev (82 points: 17 G, 65 A)
2019–20 24
Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
CSKA Moscow (94 points) Vadim Shipachyov (65 points: 17 G, 48 A)

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

Season Opening Cup Winner Nadezhda Cup Winner Priceless Player (MVP)
2008–09 Salavat Yulaev Ufa Nadezhda Cup not yet introduced Danis Zaripov
2009–10 Ak Bars Kazan Alexander Radulov
2010–11 Dynamo Moscow Alexander Radulov
2011–12 Salavat Yulaev Ufa Alexander Radulov
2012–13 Dynamo Moscow Dinamo Riga Sergei Mozyakin
2013–14 Dynamo Moscow Avangard Omsk Sergei Mozyakin
2014–15 Metallurg Magnitogorsk Cancelled due to economic reasons Alexander Radulov
2015–16 CSKA Moscow Not contested Sergei Mozyakin
2016–17 Metallurg Magnitogorsk Sergei Mozyakin
2017–18 SKA Saint Petersburg Nikita Gusev
2018–19 SKA Saint Petersburg Kirill Kaprizov
2019–20 Avangard Omsk TBD


Single season records

Regular season


Record Name Season
Points 85 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Goals 48 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Assists 65 Russia Nikita Gusev (SKA) 2018–19
Shots on goal 253 Canada Darren Dietz (Barys) 2018–19
Plus/minus +48 Russia Vladislav Gavrikov (SKA) 2018–19
Penalty minutes 374 Canada Darcy Verot (Chekhov) 2009–10
Wins 38 Czech Republic Jakub Kovář (Avtomobilist) 2018–19
Shutouts 13 Russia Alexei Murygin (Yaroslavl) 2015–16



Record Name Season
Points 33 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2013–14
Goals 15 Russia Evgenii Dadonov (SKA) 2014–15
Russia Danis Zaripov (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Assists 20 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2013–14
Canada Chris Lee (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Shots on goal 82 Russia Evgeny Kuznetsov (Chelyabinsk) 2012–13
Plus/minus +16 Slovakia Dominik Graňák (Dynamo Moscow) 2012–13
Canada Chris Lee (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Penalty minutes 69 Russia Maxim Goncharov (Ufa) 2015–16
Wins 16 Russia Alexander Yeryomenko (Dynamo Moscow) 2011–12, 2012–13
Russia Vasily Koshechkin (Magnitogorsk) 2013–14
Finland Mikko Koskinen (SKA) 2014–15
Russia Emil Garipov (Kazan) 2017–18
Russia Ilya Sorokin (CSKA Moscow) 2018–19
Shutouts 6 Sweden Anders Nilsson (Kazan) 2014–15

Career records

Regular season


Record Name Years
Points 735 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2020
Goals 341 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2020
Assists 394 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2020
Games played 647 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2020
Plus/minus +194 Russia Alexander Radulov (Ufa, CSKA Moscow) 2008–2016
Penalty minutes 1026 Russia Evgeny Artyukhin (SKA, Atlant, CSKA Moscow, Sibir, Dynamo Moscow, Vityaz) 2010–2020
Wins 259 Russia Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2008–2020
Shutouts 69 Russia Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2008–2020



Record Name Years
Points 162 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2020
Goals 64 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2020
Assists 98 Russia Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2020
Games played 152 Russia Yevgeny Biryukov (Magnitogorsk) 2009–2020
Plus/minus +52 Russia Danis Zaripov (Kazan, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2020
Penalty minutes 296 Russia Grigori Panin (Kazan, CSKA Moscow, Ufa) 2009–2020
Wins 68 Russia Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2009–2020
Shutouts 16 Russia Ilya Sorokin (CSKA Moscow) 2015–2020

KHL's longest match

Match time Date Match Home Visitor Result Overtime goal scorer
142:09 mins 22 March 2018 5. Conference Semi-Finals CSKA Jokerit 1-2 Finland Mika Niemi

All-time team records

Since its foundation in 2008, 35 different clubs have played in the KHL, and 32 of them have at least once qualified for the playoffs. Of the 24 founding teams, only Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Khimik Voskresensk had never qualified for the playoffs (both are no longer in the league). The table gives the final regular-season ranks for all teams, with the playoff performance encoded in colors. The teams are ordered by their best 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 7 September 2011, that killed the entire team

 [c]: Conference semifinals cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Attendance statistics

Jokerit - SKA in Helsinki Ice Challenge 2017, with KHL-record attendance (17,645)[48]
Jokerit - SKA in Helsinki Ice Challenge 2017, with KHL-record attendance (17,645)[48]

Total and average attendance by season, including play-offs:[49]

Season Total Attendance Average Attendance
2008–09 3,886,948 6,233
2009–10 4,223,698 6,264
2010–11 4,293,271 6,944
2011–12 4,320,908 6,861
2012–13 4,775,086 6,912
2013–14 5,190,133 6,614
2014–15 6,066,093 7,405
2015–16 5,875,645 7,065
2016–17 5,892,889 7,210
2017–18 5,318,175 7,005
2018–19 5,644,804 7,544
2019–20 5,118,949 6,854

All-Star Game

The Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game is an exhibition game held annually at the midway point (usually January or February) of the season, with the league's star players playing against each other. Previously played in a Russian players versus the "rest of the world" format, now it is Eastern versus Western Conference.

See also

Preceded by
Russian Superleague
Kontinental Hockey League
Succeeded by


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External links

Official KHL
Third party
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