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 27 member clubs based in Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, 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. KHL has the third highest average attendance in Europe with 6,121 spectators per game in the regular season, and the highest total attendance in Europe with 5.32 million spectators in the regular season.
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.
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. 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. 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. Two other teams, Lev Praha and Spartak Moscow, also withdrew from the 2014–15 season due to financial problems.
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.
The newly created Chinese club HC Kunlun Red Star from Beijing was admitted for the 2016–17 season. 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.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Kontinental Hockey League, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.