The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) (Russian: Континентальная хоккейная лига (КХЛ), Kontinental’naya hokkeynaya liga) is an international professional ice hockey league founded in 2008. It comprises 28 member clubs based in Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia and Slovakia and it intends to expand to more countries. It is widely considered to be the premier professional ice hockey league in Europe and Asia, and second in the world behind the NHL. The Gagarin Cup is awarded annually to the league playoff champion at the end of each season. The title of Champion of Russia is given to the highest ranked Russian team.