Soviet Championship League

Last updated
Soviet Hockey Championship
State Emblem of the Soviet Union.svg
Republic(s) Flag of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (1951-1991).svg Byelorussian SSR
Flag of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.svg Estonian SSR
Flag of the Kazakh SSR.svg Kazakh SSR
Flag of Latvian SSR.svg Latvian SSR
Flag of Lithuanian SSR.svg Lithuanian SSR
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.svg Russian SFSR
Flag of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.svg Ukrainian SSR
Relegation toSoviet Class A2
Soviet Class B
ChampionshipSoviet Hockey Championship
Associated Title(s) Soviet Cup
Most successful club CSKA Moscow (32)

The Soviet Hockey Championship (Russian : Чемпионат СССР по хоккею) was the highest level ice hockey league in the Soviet Union, running from 1946 to 1992. Before the 1940s the game of ice hockey was not cultivated in Russia, instead the more popular form of hockey was bandy. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the league was temporarily renamed the CIS Championship in 1992. This organization was the direct predecessor of the International Hockey League (Russian : Межнациональная хоккейная Лига), and subsequent Russian Superleague (RSL) and current Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).



The first cities to enter teams in the Soviet League were Arkhangelsk, Kaunas, Leningrad, Moscow, Riga, Sverdlovsk, Tallinn and Uzhhorod. The teams were populated with amateur players who were actually full-time athletes hired as regular workers of a company (aircraft industry, food workers, tractor industry) or organization (KGB, Red Army, Soviet Air Force) that sponsored what would be presented as an after-hours social sports society hockey team for their workers. In other words, all Soviet hockey players were de facto professionals who circumvented the amateur rules of the International Olympic Committee to retain their amateur status and compete in the Olympics. [1] [2]

Far and away the most dominant club in league history was HC CSKA Moscow, the famous "Red Army Team," which won 32 titles, including all but six from 1955 to 1989 and 13 in a row from 1976 to 1989. Moscow teams won every title in the league's existence. CSKA was able to pull off such a long run of dominance because during the Soviet era, the entire CSKA organization was a functioning division of the Soviet Armed Forces via the Ministry of Defence. As all able-bodied Soviet males had to serve in the military, the team was able to draft the best young hockey players in the Soviet Union onto the team. All players were commissioned officers in the Soviet Army. There was a substantial overlap between the rosters of the Red Army Team and the Soviet national team, which was one factor behind the Soviets' near-absolute dominance of international hockey from the 1950s through the early 1990s. By the late 1980s, however, the long run of Red Army dominance caused a significant dropoff in attendance throughout the league. [3]

Soviet League Champions

See also

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  3. Merron, Jeff (14 February 2002). "Russians regroup on other side of the red line". Retrieved 2009-08-31.
Preceded by
Soviet Championship League
Succeeded by
International Hockey League