Ak Bars Kazan is professional ice hockey team based in Kazan of Tatarstan, which is a federal subject of the Russian Federation. They have been nicknamed the ‘Leopards’. As of 2009, the ice hockey team is a member of the Chernyshev division of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). They are one of the first 24 teams to make up the KHL. Team colors for Ak Bars Kazan are Red, Green and White. Their team logo depicts a stylized snow leopard.
The ice hockey club was founded in 1956. Several years after its founding, the team was known as the Mashstroy Kazan. In 1958, they changed their name to SC Uritskogo and to Itil Kazan in 1990 before setting with their current name in 1995. The Tatneft Arena, with a capacity to seat 10,000 spectators serves as home ice for Ak Bars Kazan.
Prior to joining the KHL, the Ak Bars Kazan, was a member of the Russia Superleague from 1999 to 2008. They were also members of the Russian Hockey League, and the International Hockey League. In its early career, Ak Bars Kazan, was ranked as a Soviet Class B team. In 1959, they were elevated to Class A2. They were also a constant participant of the USSR Championships.
The team has won several championships throughout its history. They are also noted for having won the KHL Championships in 2009. Other wins for Ak Bars Kazan include the Soviet League in 1962 and 1976, the Russian Superleague in 1998 and 2006, and the Continental Cup in 2008.
The team made news during the 2004-2005 season when they signed a total of 11 NHL players. These players included Russians Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexei Kovalev. The team also signed Canadians Danny Heatley and Vincent Lacavalier. That season, the team finished 4th place loosing the bronze to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. As of the 2009-2010 season, most of the Ak Bars Kazan players are from Russia, with a few imports from Sweden and Finland.
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