Cam Russell

When Cam Russell retired he said he was going from a "stay-at-home defenceman to a stay-at-home dad."

"I'm hanging them up, that's what I'm doing," said the father of two, who returned home to Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the same hometown as Sidney Crosby. "It's been about a year and a half since I hurt my shoulder and it is not much better now than it was last November. I've gone through four rehab programs and there's been progress, but not enough to play at that (NHL) level."

It was very disappointing for Russell to retire under his circumstances. A left shoulder injury suffered Feb. 14, 1999 while playing for the Colorado Avalanche never healed sufficiently after reconstructive surgery to allow him to return to the NHL.

"It's tough to really have any regrets after playing 10 years in the NHL. The only hard part of it is you are not going out on your own terms, but I can't complain. I enjoyed a great career."

A rough and sinewy defenseman who made the most of a six-foot-four, 200-pound frame, Russell came just four regular-season games short of 400 in his career. He had another 44 playoff games. He collected just nine goals and 21 assists in his career. His most impressive statistic was his 872 penalty minutes.

Russell is undecided about his immediate future after hockey. He is a minority owner of the Halifax Mooseheads and was an assistant coach during the Memorial Cup run.

Russell, a QMJHL graduate of the Hull Olympiques, was a draft pick of the Blackhawks in 1987. He played parts of 10 seasons for the Blackhawks before a trade to the Avalanche for centre Roman Vopat and a draft pick in November 1998. He had 35 games for Colorado before the injury.

His highlight came in the 1991-92 season when the Blackhawks went to the Stanley Cup final before being swept by Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I got that close to the Stanley Cup with all the excitement and hype," he said. "My parents flew in. That was probably the most exciting part of my career."

Russell was best known as a Hawk, where he evolved from an enforcer into a serviceable depth defenseman.

In his rookie season, Russell would take on all comers. Sometimes he'd fare better than others.

"I was out trying to impress (coach) Mike Keenan. I dropped the gloves with (Philadelphia Flyers enforcer) Dave Brown. I don't think I'll ever forget that one. It was over pretty quick and I wasn't on top to say the least. I was seeing stars for awhile after that."

Russell credits Keenan's successor Darryl Sutter for making him into a reliable everyday player.

"He just really believed in me and gave me a lot of chances. He let me know that if I worked hard, it didn't matter if I made mistakes, as long as I gave it 100 percent every night."


JKidd 8:43 AM  

Haha, Cam Russell... what is there to say about ole Bam bam? One hell of a scrapper through the melee days of the old Chuck Norris division. Some of the best memories of Cam... Him getting tuned up during a line brawl by the Wings Darren McCarty - twice! Never seen it before where you get KO'ed, and then later on, find the same guy in the brawl, and he drops you again. Funny stuff. The Tie Domi fight wasn't a good thing either. I definitely miss the old days of him and Glenn Cochrane being on Hawks, and then Nylund joining, and then the Chuck Norris division rivalries were in full swing... oh the grand ole days of hockey!

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