The Mountaineer's sports hall of fame:
Defesneman Kris Russell
The next inductee into The Mountaineer’s unofficial sports hall of fame has come a long way since first lacing up his skates as a kid in Caroline. In fact, Caroline’s hometown boy is now a long-standing National Hockey League (NHL) player.
Thirty-three-year-old Kris Russell has 13 years of NHL experience, drafted in 2005 by the Columbus Blue Jackets and making his game debut in 2007. Most recently, Russell signed a one-year contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers for $1.25 million in October of 2020.
After four seasons with the Blue Jackets, Russell went on to play for the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars. He’s been with the Oilers since the 2016-17 season.
At 5’10’’ and 170 lbs., Russell is smaller than most players, but his smaller stature by no means hinders his ability to block a shot.
Currently, Russell is the NHL record holder for most blocked shots in a single game, as well as most blocked shots in a single season.
On March 5, 2015, Russell blocked 15 shots in a game against the Boston Bruins. That season, he blocked 283 shots in 79 games for the Calgary Flames.
Russell is sitting fourth overall for most blocked shots in a career with 1,914.
Before his NHL career, Russell’s earlier claim to fame was as a top defenseman in the Western Hockey League (WHL).
During his time playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers, they won two championships and Russell was named the WHL Defenseman of the Year in 2006 and 2007. In 2007, he was also named WHL Player of the Year, winning the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, and Defenseman of the Year for the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
Russell has also represented Canada, playing for two goal medal winning teams at the World Junior Championships and playing in two International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) world championships.
During his minor hockey days, Russell was frequently coached by his father, Doug, alongside his twin brother Ryan.
Ryan also went on to play in the NHL, briefly playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets alongside Kris for the 2011-12 season.
Despite a lengthy career in the pros, with lots of travel and fame, Kris Russell still considers Caroline to be his hometown and is active in the community.
In 2007, after making the jump from the major juniors to the NHL, Russell commented on his hometown.
“If you see in the program, it says I’m from Red Deer, but I’m not from there. Caroline is home to me. It’s really a great community, very supportive. When you need anything, you know everyone in town, and it’s awesome the support they give everyone.”
With files from The Mountaineer