Source: Wikipedia. The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) (Russian: Континентальная хоккейная лига, Kontinental’naya khokkeynaya 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 Eurasia, and the second-best in the world. KHL, the KHL Shield are the trademarks of the Kontinental Hockey League. 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 Praha from Czech Republic and HC 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.
Russians constitute a large majority of the players in the KHL because most teams are located in Russia. Players not from Russia represent a minority of about a third of the KHL players, and are mostly Eastern European, Nordic, and North American. In 2012–13, more than 800 players played in the league.