The Kontinental Hockey League (Континентальная Хоккейная Лига), or KHL, is the strongest organized hockey league in Europe. It's 23 teams come from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Latvia, though most reside in Russia. Due to money problems within the league and teams, the fate of the league (like it's multiple predecessors) is constantly on the forefront.
Started in 2008 after the collapse of the Russian Super League (Чемпионат России Суперлига) that controlled European hockey from 1999-2008, the KHL is the second largest league in the world. The National Hockey League in North America is the only competition.
Though playing professional ice hockey (on any level) is impressive, even KHL players aspire to play in the NHL. High level players get a hefty salary and tend to receive benefits such as homes and cars paid for by the league, but would gladly give them up for the NHL. Playing for certain KHL teams also counted towards young men's required military service.
At the end of regular season play, a 16-team playoff occurs. The winners receive the Gagarian Cup (yes, named after the cosmonaut) and are referred to as the 'Champions of Russia.'
Some of the most recognized teams include Dynamo Moscow, AK Bars Kazan, and SKA St. Petersburg. Some of the biggest names in the NHL, including Ilya Bryzgalov, Pavel Bure, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuck, and Valeri Kharlamov.
A rather entertaining website, called Hot Ice, is run about the league.
RECORDING [[With Leigha]]