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In 1997-98, the Russian Hockey League consisted of three levels: the Superleague, Top League, and Regional Leagues. The Superleague comprises two groups of 14 teams, divided into East and West Divisions. Each team plays a double round-robin within its division. The top 10 teams in each group then advance to the championship round, where they play another double round-robin against the teams of the other division. The regular season champion and medal winners are determined after this round. The top 16 teams then advance to the Russian Cup playoffs. The first three rounds of the playoffs see teams playing best-of-three series, with the final being a best-of-five encounter.

Beneath the Superleague is the Top League, which is made up of 17 teams (nine in the East and eight in the West). Each team plays a quadruple round-robin within its division. The top two teams from each division and eight teams from the Superleague (the four bottom teams from each division after the first stage) are then placed in a promotion pool. The 12 teams then play a double round-robin, with the two winning teams to join the Superleague the following season. The Regional League consists of five regional divisions. Local competitions are also held every year for youth teams aged 13 to 18 with the winners taking part in the All-Russian finals. These national finals help determine the top youth and junior teams in the country and identify prospects for the upper associations. by The Russian Hockey Federation handles all matters of hockey development in the country.

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