KHL will not name champion, award Gagarin Cup

After pulling the plug on the 2019-20 season in March, the KHL has decided there will be no champion and the Gagarin Cup will not be awarded for the first time in league history.

Due to this decision, the league has equally ranked the eight teams that advanced to the second round of the playoffs: Ak Bars Kazan, Barys Nur-Sultan, CSKA Moscow, Dynamo Moscow, Jokerit Helsinki, Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Sibir Novosibirsk, and SKA St. Petersburg.

From the KHL:

With the season incomplete, there is no way that a Gagarin Cup winner and other prize winners can be fairly chosen based on the results of the regular season. To announce a champion based on the regular season and one round of the playoffs would violate the sporting integrity of the competition.

The Russian Hockey Federation has drawn up a separate procedure to determine the Russian Champion for the 2019-20 season, and to award silver and bronze medals to the second and third-placed teams. This proposal will be submitted to the KHL Board of Directors for approval.

The Gagarin Cup playoffs were halted in the conference semifinals after Jokerit and Barys pulled out due to the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, the KHL was planning for a one-week break to come up with a new format for the four remaining teams. They later chose to end the season completely.

“I’m sure that the league has taken a fair and balanced decision in this difficult situation,” said KHL president Alexei Morozov. “This was the only choice that respects our sporting principles. For the first time in history, the KHL season had to be interrupted and ultimately curtailed. That was a tough, but essential decision, dictated by the need to protect the health of the nation.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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