Kontinental Hockey League

Kontinental Hockey League
Current season, competition or ion:
Current sports event 2018–19 KHL season
KHL logo shield 2016.svg
FormerlyRussian Superleague
SportIce hockey
PresidentDmitry Chernyshenko
MottoХоккей – наша игра! Khokkey – nasha igra! Jääkiekko on meidän peli! (Hockey is our game!)[1]
No. of teams25
Most recent
Ak Bars Kazan (3rd title)
Most titlesAk Bars Kazan (3)
TV partner(s)
Official websiteen.KHL.ru

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 25 member clubs based in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Slovakia and it is planned to expand to more countries. It is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in Europe and Asia, and second in the world behind the NHL.[7][8] KHL has the third highest average attendance in Europe with 6,121 spectators per game in the regular season,[9] and the highest total attendance in Europe with 5.32 million spectators in the regular season.[10]

The Gagarin Cup is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The title of Champion of Russia is given to the highest ranked Russian team.[11]



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 remains a day of mourning on which no KHL regular season games are held.[12]

Team changes[]

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.[citation needed]

Finnish team Jokerit joined the league in 2014

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]

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, the Western Conference includes 14 teams divided into two divisions, 7 teams per division. The Eastern Conference has 15 teams, divided into divisions of 7 and 8 respectively. In this season, each team played every other team once at home and once on the road, giving a total of 56 games (28 at home, 28 on the road), plus 4 additional games (2 at home, 2 on the road) played by each team against rival clubs from its own conference. Thus, each team played a total of 60 games in the regular season.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]


Team locations of the Kontinental Hockey League Western conference
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)
Division Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach Captain
Western Conference
Bobrov Dinamo Riga Latvia Riga Arena Riga 10,300 2008 Latvia Ģirts Ankipāns Latvia Lauris Dārziņš
Dynamo Moscow Russia Moscow Megasport Sport Palace 12,724 1946 2008 Russia Vladimir Vorobyov Russia Ilya Nikulin
Jokerit Helsinki Finland Helsinki Hartwall Arena 13,349 1967 2014 Finland Lauri Marjamäki Denmark Peter Regin
Severstal Cherepovets Russia Cherepovets Ice Palace 6,000 1956 2008 Russia Alexander Gulyavtsev Russia Maxim Rybin
SKA Saint Petersburg Russia Saint Petersburg Ice Palace Saint Petersburg 12,300 1946 2008 Russia Ilya Vorobyov Russia Pavel Datsyuk
Spartak Moscow Russia Moscow VTB Ice Palace 12,100 1946 2008 Russia Vadim Yepanchintsev Russia Dmitri Kalinin
Tarasov CSKA Moscow Russia Moscow VTB Ice Palace 12,100 1946 2008 Russia Nikitin Igor Russia Sergei Andronov
Dinamo Minsk Belarus Minsk Minsk-Arena 15,000 2004 2008 Canada Gordie Dwyer Belarus Sergei Kostitsyn
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Russia Yaroslavl Arena 2000 9,000 1959 2008 Russia Dmitri Kvartalnov Sweden Staffan Kronwall
Slovan Bratislava Slovakia Bratislava Ondrej Nepela Arena 10,115 1921 2012 Slovakia Vladimír Országh Slovakia Michal Sersen
HC Sochi Russia Sochi Bolshoy Ice Dome 12,000 2014 Russia Sergei Zubov Russia Nikita Shchitov
Vityaz Moscow Oblast Russia Podolsk Vityaz Ice Palace 5,500 1998* 2008 Russia Valeri Belov Russia Denis Kokarev
Eastern Conference
Kharlamov Ak Bars Kazan Russia Kazan TatNeft Arena 10,000 1956 2008 Russia Zinetula Bilyaletdinov Russia Alexander Svitov
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg Russia Yekaterinburg KRK Uralets 5,545 2006 2009 Russia Andrei Martemyanov Russia Nikita Ttryamkin
Metallurg Magnitogorsk Russia Magnitogorsk Arena Metallurg 7,700 1950 2008 Czech Republic Josef Jandač Russia Sergei Mozyakin
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk Russia Nizhnekamsk SCC Arena 5,500 1968 2008 Russia Vladimir Krikunov Russia Maxim Rybin
Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod Russia Nizhny Novgorod Trade Union Sport Palace 5,500 1947 2008 None Russia Vadim Khomitsky
Traktor Chelyabinsk Russia Chelyabinsk Traktor Sport Palace 7,500 1947 2008 Russia Andrei Nikolishin Russia Stanislav Chistov
Chernyshev Admiral Vladivostok Russia Vladivostok Fetisov Arena 7,500 2013 Belarus Alexander Andrievsky None
Amur Khabarovsk Russia Khabarovsk Platinum Arena 7,100 1966 2008 Russia Sergei Shepelev Russia Dmitri Tarasov
Avangard Omsk Russia Omsk Omsk Arena 10,318 1950 2008 Canada Bob Hartley Russia Denis Kulyash
Barys Astana Kazakhstan Astana Barys Arena 12,000 1999 2008 Kazakhstan Yerlan Sagymbayev United States Brandon Bochenski
Salavat Yulaev Ufa Russia Ufa Ufa Arena 8,400 1957 2008 Russia Igor Zakharkin Russia Igor Grigorenko
Sibir Novosibirsk Russia Novosibirsk Ice Sports Palace Sibir 7,400 1962 2008 Belarus Andrei Skabelka Russia Alexei Kopeikin
Red Star Kunlun China Beijing Cadillac Arena 14,000 2016 Russia Vladimir Yurzinov Jr. Finland Janne Jalasvaara

a 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.


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 country. Foreign goaltenders on Russian teams have a limit regarding total seasonal ice time.[25]

Prior to the inaugural season, several KHL teams signed several players from the NHL.[26] 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),[27] leading to an investigation by the International Ice Hockey Federation.[28] On 4 October 2010, the conflict between the leagues was settled when both signed a new agreement to honor one another's contracts.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

Nationalities of players[]

During the current season, players representing 16 nations have played at least one game in the KHL.[32] 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".[33] 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
Belarus Belarus (1 team) 33 40 45 38
Canada Canada 36 69 56 41
Croatia Croatia (1 team) 3 2 2
Czech Republic Czech Republic 46 47 29 35
Denmark Denmark 1 2 4
Finland Finland (1 team) 40 37 50 47
France France 1 1
Germany Germany 1 3 3 1
Italy Italy 1
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan (1 team) 30 29 28 36
Norway Norway 3 3 3 1
Russia Russia (22 teams) 540 573 594 634
Slovakia Slovakia (1 team) 51 43 32 27
Slovenia Slovenia 2 4 4
Sweden Sweden 24 22 28 27
Ukraine Ukrainea 11 12 3 3
United States United States 13 20 27 21
Total 863 909 936 956

Trophies and awards[]

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[38] (Russian: Кубок Континента, Kubok Kontinenta). The winners of the conference finals are awarded the Eastern Conference Champion Cup (Russian: Кубок Победителю конференции Восток, Kubok Pobelyu konferentsii Vostok) and the Western Conference Champion Cup (Russian: Кубок Победителю конференции Запад, Kubok Pobelyu konferentsii Zapad).[39]

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 September 10, 2011, three days after the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash, the KHL head office decided to honor the deceased in the 2011 Opening Cup.[40] The League gives the Andrey Starovoytov Award annually to its referees of the year, also called the "Golden Whistle".[41]

Seasons overview[]

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


Single season records[]

Career records[]

KHL's longest match[]

Match time Date Match Home Visitor Result Overtime goal scorer
142.09 22.3.2018 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 September 7, 2011, that killed the entire team

Attendance statistics[]

Jokerit - SKA in Helsinki Ice Challenge 2017, with KHL record attendance (17,645)[43]

Total and average attendance in seasons, including play-off.[44]

Season Total Attendance Average Attendance
2008–09 3,670,393 5,007
2009–10 4,211,836 5,661
2010–11 4,287,279 6,064
2011–12 4,313,455 6,127
2012–13 4,776,792 6,285
2013–14 5,195,762 6,192
2014–15 6,064,892 6,592
2015–16 5,914,666 6,429
2016–17 5,952,426 6,305

All-Star Game[]

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