Soviet Championship League

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).

Soviet Hockey Championship
State Emblem of the Soviet Union.svg
Republic(s)Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic Byelorussian SSR
Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic Estonian SSR
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic Kazakh SSR
Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic Latvian SSR
Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic Lithuanian SSR
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian SFSR
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic Ukrainian SSR
Founded1946
Folded1992
Relegation toSoviet Class A2
Soviet Class B
ChampionshipSoviet Hockey Championship
Associated Title(s)Soviet Cup
Most successful clubCSKA Moscow (32)

HistoryEdit

The Soviet Championship League began in 1946, with 12 teams playing 7 games each. Teams were based in Arkhangelsk, Kaunas, Leningrad, Moscow, Riga, Sverdlovsk, Tallinn and Uzhhorod, and eight of them were from the military or police.[1] 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.[2][3]

The league was dominated by Moscow-based teams, who won every title in the league's existence. 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. 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 Army; all players were commissioned officers. As all able-bodied Soviet males had to serve in the military, the team was able to literally 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.[4]

Soviet League ChampionsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Martin 1990, p. 26
  2. ^ Washburn, J. N. (21 July 1974). "Soviet Amateur Athlete: A Real Pro". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "How the Russians break the Olympic rules". Christian Science Monitor. 15 April 1980.
  4. ^ Merron, Jeff (14 February 2002). "Russians regroup on other side of the red line". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-08-31.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by
none
Soviet Championship League
1946–1992
Succeeded by