Thanks to the KHL’s on-going partnership with SAP, the bulk of the work on this year’s schedule could be automated. This sped up the process of producing a fixture list and made it possible to work out several different options.
The season will start on September 2, on a Wednesday, with a showdown between the leading teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences last season – CSKA Moscow and Ak Bars Kazan. The regular season will run until Feb. 27, with 142 game days.
Each of the league’s 23 clubs will play 60 games. Every team will play each other home and away (44 games). A further 8-10 games will be played against rivals from the same division, and 6-8 games will come against opposition from other division in each team’s conference. In total, there will be 690 games in the regular season.
In line with the IIHF’s schedule for international play, there are three pauses in the KHL season to allow for the Euro Hockey Tour. There are from Nov. 2-9 (in Finland), Dec. 14-20 (in Russia) and Feb. 8-15 (in Sweden). There are also planned breaks for the KHL All-Star Game in Riga (Jan. 22.24) and the New Year holiday (Dec. 31-Jan. 2).
Due to the change in the number of competing teams, and with a view to easing any logistical issues, there are changes in the composition of each division. Torpedo returns to the Eastern Conference after one season, Sibir moves to the Chernyshev Division. In the West, Dinamo Riga and Dynamo Moscow will join the Tarasov Division in place of Sochi and Vityaz.
As in past seasons, the schedule seeks to focus on the league’s key rivalries. Thus, in the coming season, we can look forward to four clashes between SKA and CSKA, Ak Bars and Salavat Yulaev, Traktor and Metallurg, and a quartet of each Moscow derby pairing involving Dynamo, Spartak and CSKA.
When drawing up this season’s fixtures, the league has tried to take into account the wishes of clubs travelling to Siberia and the Far East. In 2020/21, every club will have a three or four-day break after visiting the Far East. For the first time, every club in the Western Conference will visit Khabarovsk before the New Year.
The playoffs are due to start on March 2, 2021, with a potential Gagarin Cup Final game seven pencilled in for April 30, if required.
The playoff schedule is unchanged. For the convenience of fans, during the first and second round of the playoffs, we will have action from both conferences on each game day. This means fewer games starting at the same time, enabling fans to follow all of the action online throughout the day. All playoff series will continue every second day.
Compared with last season, there are slightly fewer games per day on average – dropping from 4.99 games to 4.86. That’s the lowest figure for the past eight years.