Kontinental Hockey League

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 24 member clubs based in Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Russia, 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 National Hockey League.[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]

Kontinental Hockey League
Current season, competition or edition:
2019–20 KHL season
FormerlyRussian Superleague
SportIce hockey
PresidentDmitry Chernyshenko
MottoХоккей – наша игра! Khokkey – nasha igra! Jääkiekko on meidän peli! (Hockey is our game!)[1]
No. of teams24
Most recent
CSKA Moscow (1st title)
Most titlesAk Bars Kazan (3)
TV partner(s)
Official websiteen.KHL.ru

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]



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.

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,[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Two other teams, Lev Praha and Spartak Moscow, also withdrew from the 2014–15 season due to financial problems.[18][19]

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.[20]

The newly created Chinese club HC Kunlun Red Star from Beijing was admitted for the 2016–17 season.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25]

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.[26]


Western conference teams (Divisions: : Bobrov, : Tarasov, : Moscow and Moscow Oblast: see separate Map)
Moscow and Moscow Oblast teams (Divisions: : Bobrov, : Tarasov)
Division Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined Head Coach Captain
Western Conference
Bobrov Dinamo Riga Riga Arena Riga 10,300 2008 Ģirts Ankipāns Lauris Dārziņš
Dynamo Moscow Moscow VTB Arena 12,724 1946 2008 Vladimir Krikunov Vadim Shipachyov
Jokerit Helsinki Helsinki Hartwall Arena 13,349 1967 2014 Lauri Marjamäki Peter Regin
Severstal Cherepovets Cherepovets Ice Palace 6,000 1956 2008 Andrei Razin Yuri Trubachev
SKA Saint Petersburg Saint Petersburg Ice Palace Saint Petersburg 12,300 1946 2008 Alexei Kudashov Sergei Plotnikov
Spartak Moscow Moscow CSKA Arena 12,100 1946 2008 Oleg Znarok Andrei Kuteikin
Tarasov CSKA Moscow Moscow CSKA Arena 12,100 1946 2008 Igor Nikitin Sergei Andronov
Dinamo Minsk Minsk Minsk-Arena 15,000 2004 2008 Craig Woodcroft Sergei Kostitsyn
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Yaroslavl Arena 2000 9,000 1959 2008 Craig MacTavish Staffan Kronwall
HC Sochi Sochi Bolshoy Ice Dome 12,000 2014 Sergei Zubov Nikita Shchitov
Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod Nizhny Novgorod Trade Union Sport Palace 5,500 1947 2008 David Nemirovsky Denis Barantsev
Vityaz Moscow Oblast Podolsk Vityaz Ice Palace 5,500 1998* 2008 Mikhail Kravets Alexander Semin
Eastern Conference
Kharlamov Ak Bars Kazan Kazan TatNeft Arena 10,000 1956 2008 Dmitri Kvartalnov Danis Zaripov
Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg Yekaterinburg KRK Uralets 5,545 2006 2009 Andrei Martemyanov Nigel Dawes
Metallurg Magnitogorsk Magnitogorsk Arena Metallurg 7,700 1950 2008 Ilya Vorobiev Sergei Mozyakin
Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk Nizhnekamsk SCC Arena 5,500 1968 2008 Vyacheslav Butsayev Stepan Zakharchuk
Sibir Novosibirsk Novosibirsk Ice Sports Palace Sibir 7,400 1962 2008 Nikolai Zavarukhin Alexander Loginov
Traktor Chelyabinsk Chelyabinsk Traktor Sport Palace 7,500 1947 2008 Pēteris Skudra Dmitri Kalinin
Chernyshev Admiral Vladivostok Vladivostok Fetisov Arena 7,500 2013 Sergei Svetlov Konstantin Glazachev
Amur Khabarovsk Khabarovsk Platinum Arena 7,100 1966 2008 Alexander Gulyavtsev Maxim Kondratyev
Avangard Omsk Omsk Omsk Arena 10,318 1950 2008 Bob Hartley Alexei Emelin
Barys Nur-Sultan Nur-Sultan Barys Arena 12,000 1999 2008 Andrei Skabelka Darren Dietz
Salavat Yulaev Ufa Ufa Ufa Arena 8,400 1957 2008 Nikolai Tsulygin Grigori Panin
Red Star Kunlun Beijing Cadillac Arena 14,000 2016 Curt Fraser Brandon Yip

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


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 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),[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). 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
China (1 team)32
Czech Republic46472935353328
Finland (1 team)40375047514245
Kazakhstan (1 team)30292836403834
Latvia (1 team)35342934333434
Russia (19 teams)540573594634679663605
United States13202721232020
Total8639389369571,027 913 918

Trophies and awards

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 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.[45] The League gives the Andrey Starovoytov Award annually to its referees of the year, also called the "Golden Whistle".[46]

Seasons overview

Season Gagarin Cup Winner Gagarin Cup finalistFinal scoreContinental Cup WinnerTop scorer
2008–09Ak Bars KazanLokomotiv Yaroslavl4–3Salavat Yulaev Ufa* (129 points)Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 34 G, 42 A)
2009–10Ak Bars KazanHC MVD4–3Salavat Yulaev Ufa (129 points)Sergei Mozyakin (66 points: 27 G, 39 A)
2010–11Salavat Yulaev UfaAtlant Moscow Oblast4–1Avangard Omsk (118 points)Alexander Radulov (80 points: 20 G, 60 A)
2011–12Dynamo MoscowAvangard Omsk4–3Traktor Chelyabinsk (114 points)Alexander Radulov (63 points: 25 G, 38 A)
2012–13Dynamo MoscowTraktor Chelyabinsk4–2SKA Saint Petersburg (115 points)Sergei Mozyakin (76 points: 35 G, 41 A)
2013–14Metallurg MagnitogorskHC Lev Praha4–3Dynamo Moscow (115 points)Sergei Mozyakin (73 points: 34 G, 39 A)
2014–15SKA Saint PetersburgAk Bars Kazan4–1CSKA Moscow (139 points)Alexander Radulov (71 points: 24 G, 47 A)
2015–16Metallurg MagnitogorskCSKA Moscow4–3CSKA Moscow (127 points)Sergei Mozyakin (67 points: 32 G, 35 A)
2016–17SKA Saint PetersburgMetallurg Magnitogorsk4–1CSKA Moscow (137 points)Sergei Mozyakin (85 points: 48 G, 37 A)
2017–18Ak Bars KazanCSKA Moscow4–1SKA Saint Petersburg (138 points)Ilya Kovalchuk (63 points: 31 G, 32 A)
2018–19CSKA MoscowAvangard Omsk4–0CSKA Moscow (106 points)Nikita Gusev (82 points: 17 G, 65 A)

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

SeasonOpening Cup WinnerNadezhda Cup WinnerGold Stick Award (MVP)
2008–09Salavat Yulaev Ufa Nadezhda Cup not yet introducedDanis Zaripov
2009–10Ak Bars KazanAlexander Radulov
2010–11Dynamo MoscowAlexander Radulov
2011–12Salavat Yulaev UfaAlexander Radulov
2012–13Dynamo MoscowDinamo RigaSergei Mozyakin
2013–14Dynamo MoscowAvangard OmskSergei Mozyakin
2014–15Metallurg MagnitogorskCancelled due to economic reasonsAlexander Radulov
2015–16CSKA MoscowNot contestedSergei Mozyakin
2016–17Metallurg MagnitogorskSergei Mozyakin
2017–18SKA Saint PetersburgNikita Gusev
2018–19SKA Saint PetersburgTBD
2019–20Avangard OmskTBD


Single season records

Regular season


Record Name Season
Points 85 Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Goals 48 Sergei Mozyakin (Magnitogorsk) 2016–17
Assists 64 Nikita Gusev (SKA) 2018–19
Shots on goal 253 Darren Dietz (Barys) 2018–19
Plus/minus +48 Vladislav Gavrikov (SKA) 2018–19
Penalty minutes 374 Darcy Verot (Chekhov) 2009–10
Wins 38 Jakub Kovář (Avtomobilist) 2018–19
Shutouts 13 Alexei Murygin (Yaroslavl) 2015–16



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

Career records

Regular season


Record Name Years
Points 694 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2019
Goals 326 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2019
Assists 368 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2019
Games played 589 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2008–2019
Plus/minus +194 Alexander Radulov (Ufa, CSKA) 2008–2016
Penalty minutes 960 Evgeny Artyukhin (SKA, Atlant, CSKA Moscow, Sibir, Dynamo Moscow) 2010–2019
Wins 241 Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2008–2019
Shutouts 63 Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2008–2019



Record Name Years
Points 157 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2019
Goals 62 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2019
Assists 95 Sergei Mozyakin (Atlant, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2019
Games played 149 Yevgeny Biryukov (Magnitogorsk) 2009–2019
Plus/minus +52 Danis Zaripov (Kazan, Magnitogorsk) 2009–2019
Penalty minutes 280 Grigori Panin (Kazan, CSKA Moscow, Ufa) 2009–2019
Wins 67 Vasily Koshechkin (Togliatti, Magnitogorsk, Cherepovets) 2009–2019
Shutouts 14 Mikko Koskinen (Sibir, SKA) 2014–2018
Alexander Yeryomenko (Ufa, Dynamo Moscow) 2009–2019
Ilya Sorokin (CSKA Moscow) 2015–2019

KHL's longest match

Match time Date Match Home Visitor Result Overtime goal scorer
142:09 mins 03/22/2018 5. Conference Semi-Finals CSKA Jokerit 1-2 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

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

SeasonTotal AttendanceAverage Attendance

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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