What Happened to Kris Russell?

Kris Russell has played a lot of hockey for the Calgary the last few years. The Flames’ alternate captain was a top-2 defender for the team last year after Mark Giordano went down with injury. This year, he’s third in average even strength ice time on the team behind only Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. He’s one of the team’s alternate captains, a favourite of Bob Hartley’s and one of the best shot blockers in the league. 

The problem with all that is, Russell struggles to suppress shots against, which is one of the primary roles of a defender. By struggles, I mean he’s been one of the worst players in the entire league since coming to Calgary. What’s strange is, he wasn’t that bad until he arrived in town. 

So what changed?


Russell was a third round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2005. Two seasons after being drafted, he scored 32 goals and and 69 points from the blueline for the Medicine Hat Tigers. That was the highest total on the team, more than Darren Helm (64), Derek Dorsett (64) and David Schlemko (58). 

Offense was supposed to be the undersized rearguard’s ticket to the NHL, so after his explosive 19-year old season the Blue Jackets promoted him straight to the show as a 20-year old rookie in 2007. Russell played a sheltered, third pairing role and managed a respectable two goals and 10 points in 67 games. His average ice time that year was just over 11 minutes at even strength, plus another 3 or so minutes on the PP. 

That was Kris Russell’s role during his entire tenure in Columbus. His ice time marginally increased over his rookie season, but not really enough to move him up the depth chart. From 2007 until his departure in 2012, Russell averaged between 12 and 15 minutes of even strength ice time per night, which was typically 6th or worse in terms of average ice amongst defenders on the team. His role was “depth guy who played on the PP sometimes”. He was kept away the other team’s big guns. It’s how he started his career in the league and how his tenure ended in Columbus. 

Things didn’t change much in St. Louis, his second stop. There he averaged about 15 minutes per night and again was kept away from other team’s top lines. Russell was a capable option in his support role, but those kinds of players are often considered expendable by decision makers (just ask David Schlemko and Raphael Diaz). It’s why he was available for a 5th round pick when the Flames came calling in 2013. 

Russell’s offense never really developed at the NHL level, despite his output as a junior. His career high prior to coming to Calgary was just 23 points, which he managed in 2010-11. That’s mainly because a defenseman’s scoring in the NHL is highly dependent on getting lots of ice time – particularly with a team’s top forwards. None of Russell’s coaches in the show trusted him enough to give him that bump. Until he met Bob Hartley.

In Calgary

Russell is a player the modern NHL should favour. He has speed and agility. He has pedigree as an effective scorer and puck mover. 

Maybe that’s why he moved up into the Flames top-4 rotation. Maybe it was just a lack of other options for the coaching staff. Whatever the reason, Russell has become a favourite of the Flames’ bench boss the last few years, despite the fact that he has been completely snowed under by the increase in responsibility. 

Here’s Russell’s history as an NHLer, captured as a function of his deployment (ratio of offensive zone face-offs) and quality of competition (average ice time of the opposition). The higher up and further left on the chart, the more difficult the circumstances. The colour of the circle represents Russell’s relative possession each season. Blue = positive, red = negative. The size of the circle represents average ice time. (via War on Ice): 


As you can see, Russell’s time in Calgary completely stands out from the rest of his NHL career. He’s playing a lot more in tougher circumstances and he’s getting hopelessly outshot. In Russell’s rookie season he had a relative corsi of +6.1% as a hyper sheltered depth option. As he has worked his way up the rotation, his outshooting rate has gradually eroded. This year, he’s at -5.9%, a near total inversion of his rate as a 20-year old. 

To put it in plainer numbers, in 2007-08 Columbus gave up 42.8/60 shot attempts against with Russell on the ice at even strength. This year, the Flames give up 61.6 shot attempts against per 60 minutes of ice with Russell skating. In fact, during his three seasons in Calgary, the Flames have never given up less than 60 shot attempts against with Russell on the ice. To put that number in context, the only team giving up 60+ corsi events per game this year is the Colorado Avalanche (61.4/60).   

The two things that seemed to have cemented Russell in Hartley’s head as a big minutes option is his penchant for blocking shots and his career year last season in parallel with the team’s Cinderella run. 

All those things happening in tandem – Russell becoming the league’s shot blocking king, his results exploding in an expanded role and the club defeating all expectations – seem to be a compelling reason to trust him as a top-4 defender. 

The problem is it’s all an illusion. One of the reasons Kris Russell blocks so many shots is a lot of shots are directed at his net when he’s on the ice. Spending time with Dennis Wideman and the uncanny Monahan unit last year while they were riding a wave of sky high shooting percentages papered over his significant defensive shortcomings at the time. Without that SH% boost, Russell is always going to get outshot (and outscored) heavily. At least as long as he’s a top-4 defender.

What’s Left? 

Kris Russell is probably still a legit NHL defender. I just think he’s best suited to the role he had in St. Louis and Columbus – as a third pairing, 2nd PP unit support guy. 

To some degree, I also wonder if coaching is a source of his struggles in Calgary. The fact that he’s developed a tendency to jump in front of shots (and has been subsequently rewarded with more ice and responsibility in response) suggests he’s being directed and incentivized to do things that lead to lots of shot blocks. Getting in front of pucks still holds a relatively venerated place in the hearts and minds of decision makers in the league currently, but I come from the school of thought that says denying shot attempts altogether – and spending more time in the offensive zone – is far more valuable. 

Whatever the cause – be it deployment, circumstances, coaching, strategy – Russell is mostly a liability on the ice in Calgary. Given his defensive struggles, he’ll also be far too expensive to re-sign come the offseason because of his improved reputation around the league (otherwise I would suggest retaining him with the caveat that he be designated a third pairing guy moving forward). 

The best outcome for Calgary now would be to put Russell on the auction block around the trade deadline to try and leverage him for some sort of return. If they do better than a 5th rounder, then at least they will have come out ahead after three years.   

  • mattyc

    Geeze — that chart certainly screams to me that a lot of Russell’s lack of success can be attributed to his role in Calgary. Qualitatively, he’s a player who should be reasonably successful possession-wise; he makes a good outlet pass and he’s a strong skater. He does make some bad pinches sometimes though, so it’s hard to hang it all on coaching/usage. I think he’d be a fine 5 option (wouldn’t it have been nice to have a Russell-Schlemko 3rd pairing).

    I’d imagine his perceived value is high enough that his next contract will put him at a price-point where he’ll be too expensive for a 3rd pairing role, be that with the Flames or elsewhere.

  • Parallex

    Yup, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Kris Russell has been given incentives to block shots. So he does what he’s rewarded for doing.

    Problem is that he should be rewarded for suppressing the shot in the first place.

  • KACaribou

    Hrudy, Lubo, Wills, and Rick Ball all watch Kris Russell play and each one of them glows about his play.

    Nerd-stat bloggers here don’t.

    I am going with the guys who actually know what they are watching, and understand the intricasies of the professional game.

    Pull out all the stats you like. Say what you wish, but I don’t think it is going to change Hartley’s opinion or any of the above either.

    • mattyc

      Here’s a stat: renowned nerd-stat blogger Kent Wilson likely has watched as many games Kris Russell has played for the Flames as Hrudy, Lubo, Willis, and Rick Ball.

    • Derbyherb

      Wills is seriously the least knowledgeable pbp guy we’ve ever had. When the morning show on the Fan talks to him it’s a joke. “uhh what do you guys think.” He defers to Rhett Warrener for opinions dude.

      It’s sorta flawed to suggest that the things MSM PBP say should be taken as gospel. They’re extremely limited in the amount of criticism they can realistically provide. They interview the players, they ride the plane to and from Calgary with the team, why do you think the harshest thing Hrudey ever says about a goal is “Ramo would like to have that one back.” They have a specific and defined role. So no, when Russell steps in front of a slap shot you’re not going to hear from Loubo or Hrudey that it’s actually a bad play because he should have prevented that shot from being allowed to occur in the first place. Except maybe when Mike Johnson is doing colour.

      • KACaribou

        A conversation requires 2 people talking so he probably asks because it is more interesting to listen to conversation on a radio program than an oratory.

        As well, Warrener played in the NHL. Therefore he probably realizes that his opinion is more valid than people who haven’t. You may find the same thing with Ball asking Hrudy.

        Saying Wills is the least knowledgeable shows me where you are coming from though. Are you the guy who didn’t think Lanny McDonald was one of the top 10 Flames forwards of all time?; or perhaps the dude who thought Bobby Orr never hit, checked or fought?

        Read all about it here!

          • Yes he is. Worst interviews ever, tosses out idiotic questions to the players all the time. Likely pisses them off, remember one with ferland when he got called up “obviously you are not here to score goals…blah blah blah” just the way he said it you could tell Ferland was a little annoyed. I would put money that they can’t stand getting stuck with him.

            Also in the mornings on fan 960 his opinions are idiotic, it’s like he listens to the aftershows to formulate his opinions of the players and what happened in the game. Never a single original thought out of him. Always asking for validation from the other guys instead of standing by his “opinion”.

            yesterday he was thinking that the flames not releasing their lineup for the Dallas game was some gamesmanship on the part of the flames to try and trick the Stars…..thankfully (I forget who now) quickly shut down that idea saying the stars could care less who played.

            Sorry vent over, can’t stand the guy or his play calling, or his interviews, or his opinions.

        • Derbyherb

          If you assume it’s for conversational reasons you’re not listening. He asks because he has no confidence. He has no confidence because his knowledge is lacking.

          Your last paragraph is out of left field and insane so I’m gonna stop there.

        • piscera.infada

          or perhaps the dude who thought Bobby Orr never hit, checked or fought?

          That was me, and not what I said at all, but you’re clearly as much of an expert on the game as you are comprehending the English language.

          • KACaribou

            It is what you said. You were defending Hamilton not hitting anyone or playing a physical game and thought you were being sly saying that there were other defensemen who never hit anyone either – like Bobby Orr!

            I corrected you.

            Certainly you have taken the time to youtube Orr since you knew nothing about his career and 47 fights in less than 700 games.

          • piscera.infada

            Incorrect. I said:

            You know who didn’t throw big hits? Some dude named Bobby Orr–although, I’m not sure if he made it in to the hall of fame, might want to check it.

            …The point is, for his era, he didn’t. He also wasn’t one of the best (if not the best) defensemen of all time because he threw big hits, or because he was “tough”.

            Here’s a link…

            Again, even a cursory understanding of how to comprehend prose goes a long way in formulating an argument.

            One final time though; being “tough” and hitting everything are not a requisite skills for effective defensemen in the NHL any more.

          • Christian Roatis

            You’re walking on some real thin ban ice.

            You’re welcome to your opinions but when someone counters you and you default to childish responses and insults, we don’t need that here.

            Smarten up.

          • TurkeyLips

            Can we get this $hit out of the blog? By $hit I mean petty chatter between two butthurt internet denizens.

            I hate scrolling through comments and reading another IQ plunging retort that’s got nothing to do with the original article.

            FN mods – stop getting baited by the trolls.

    • ClayBort

      Kris Russell is bad at his job.

      The argument here is he has been put in the wrong job, and that is fair.

      When the MSM was teeing off on Hamilton’s +/- (a flawed stat) in a period of time when he was playing with Engelland, Kris Russell’s was equally as bad, yet it was barely mentioned. It’s hilarious how much MSM values things you cannot see or quantify… intangibles… yet freak out when you evaluate a player objectively with statistics because the “eye test holds true”.

      What is most interesting about Russell, is the eye test isn’t good for him either. Hartley likes him, so gives him a ton of minutes. MSM then tries to find some way to explain Hartley’s thinking. Hartley also gives Bollig twice the ice time he gives Granlund. They should be focusing their efforts evaluating Hartley as a coach, not justifying his decisions.

    • Cfan in Vic

      Sorry man, you lose some of the credibility of your argument when you covet the opinion of overly-biased broadcasters who need to sugar coat most aspects of the Flames broadcast. They over look so much, just to continuously spit positives. I find myself pulling my hair out listening to Hrudey’s comments.

      You lose some more credibility when you talk about nerd-stats bloggers, because once you remove “stats” from that title, it pretty much describes all of us. Stats guys also watch the games, just like everyone else.

      Nothing personal, but it just makes for a bad argument.

      I’m of the opinion that Russel has no place on the second unit, and is there for lack of a better option. That isn’t a good reason to consider re-signing him, at all. I think he’s looked so bad this season, that I’m even surprised to hear that some people think he’d have significant trade value.

    • TheRealPoc

      Surely, you were watching him get pylon’d last night against the Stars, right?

      He’s failing the eye test this year, too. At least from what I’m seeing, Russell appears to sit disproportionately deep in one-on-one situations, which is one of the reasons why he generates so many blocks – it’s the only real weapon he has to defend off the rush. But perhaps it’s because he’s overcompensating for a fear of getting blown past on the outside.

      Take that 2nd period turnstile whipping that Eakin laid on him; it might be slightly unfair to isolate that specific moment given the context of the play, which leads to Russell finding himself a bit flat footed at the start of Eakin’s rush, but that’s the kind of gap that Russell’s been playing regularly against top six forwards all year. Guys are far too strong with their technical skating these days to play off 12-15 feet like that; you’re inviting changes in direction and/or pace without any obstruction whatsoever, and it will inevitably leave you for dead, or at the very least, giving up a major volume of shot attempts against. I mean, just look at the end result of that rush – and I’d break it down in frames if I could – it starts with Russell giving Eakin a good 15 feet of gap, and it ends with Russsell face first on the ice, as Eakin totally blows past him.

      That’s not $4.5M/yr calibre defending. That’s not worthy of a regular 23-25 min/night workload. I was firmly on the “give Russell a better partner and he’ll be fine” bandwagon at the start of the year (which I felt was justified, given some of the STL & CBJ numbers referenced in this piece), but I’m firmly off that bandwagon now. They need to cut ties with Kris, either at this deadline or heading into UFA. Not worth the $20M over 5 years that it’ll inevitably take to retain him, not even close.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      I agree! Anylitics are not the end all, be all! Russell is talked about highly by the Sporstnet radio crew! Russell is not the weekday link by far and has value on this team! I would resign him for cheap if possible.

      • The GREAT Walter White

        Stats + eye-test will help give you the full picture.

        In the case of Kris Russell, both the stats and the eye-test suggest he is not a capable top 4 defenceman in the NHL.

    • McRib

      I played Hockey up to the Midget AAA & Jr. A levels… If it wasn’t for 20+ concussions by the time I was 15 years-old and me getting tired of doctors telling “the next one might be my last” (a MCL/ACL tear in my final year of Midget was actually the final straw, despite a cup of coffee in Jr. A where I really determined that was it), I would have at least made it to the NCAA level. My linemate in Midget is an NHL All-Star. At one point in Atom/Pewee I was one of the Top. 10 players in Southern Alberta in my age group. I have had at least half a dozen guys who played NCAA Division 1 Hockey that to this day tell me I was better (I still play men’s league regularly with them). My best friend growing up won a Memorial Cup was drafted in the NHL Draft and I possessed multiple talents he couldn’t come close to achieving (shot, size, strength, etc).

      These “Nerds” on here have taught me 10x more in a day, than anyone of those people you have mentioned has in my life. If you want to keep on following those broadcasters that is fine, but know that they are dinosaurs in this industry (most broadcasters are or else they would be scouts or GMs). Defenders who block a lot of shots are for the most part doing so because they are constantly being out played. Blocking shots is admirable to a certain extent, but if you are having to block 10+ shot a night you are hemmed in your zone far too often.

      Go ask Philadelphia how Andrew MacDonald is going for them. They signed him to a ludicrous $30 million contract because he “led the league in blocking shots”. He is now lacing them up for $6 Million a year in the AHL.

    • I shouldn’t bother to reply to this, but I will.

      I played hockey for 10 years. I coached and scouted hockey. I have written about hockey for decade and I have been published in books, magazine, papers and major sites – and I did that without a formal background in journalism or broadcasting.

      I have watched literally thousands of Flames games. I personally collected and collated detailed data about the Flames for years. Many of my contemporaries have been hired by NHL teams. I am one of the pioneers and disseminators of theory that has changed the way people talk and think about the game, ranging from mainstream media to NHL front offices.

      If all you have is an appeal to authority and ad hominem attacks, you’re well out of your depth here. You can debate the validity of the evidence or you go away and let the adults speak.

  • McRib

    Its kinda ridiculous the amount of scorn that Russell receives..

    He is a better defenseman than the underlying stats suggest. He has primarily been deployed with players who he needs to cover for defensively: Engelland & Wideman respectively.

    I think since being moved to play with Hamilton he has been a lot better and his pairing has been more effective.

    On the other hand, I can see why people question certain aspects of his game – he seems to play conservatively, which causes the opposition to gain the zone and get shots on net, rather than making a play and forcing the issue at the blueline which could limit the offensive zone time for the opposition.

    But its also important to remember he is still a pretty effective blueliner when given a suitable partner.

    In my opinion I would much rather lose any and all of Engelland, Smid and Wideman before losing Russell. He is our 4th best dman and I do believe he can be/is a capable #4 on most teams in the league – #5 might very well be his ideal role on a cup contender but I still think he is a top-4 defenseman and get annoyed with how much negativity surround the guy because of advanced stats.

    How many of you would pick 4 defenseman, on this team, over him? (I would pick Brodie, Gio and Hamilton easily but after that??)

    • mattyc

      He is a better defenseman than the underlying stats suggest. He has primarily been deployed with players who he needs to cover for defensively: Engelland & Wideman respectively.

      I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, and I intuitively think Russell gets punished playing with those guys, but then how do you explain that both Wideman and Engelland (and Hamilton too this year) do better when they aren’t paired with Russell. Is it simply a usage thing?

    • KACaribou

      Add another point, being: Russell has been covering for a roaming Hamilton. I agree with your empathy for Russell. I am quite sick of nerd-stat dudes pounding on this guy daily, er hourly.

      • SmellOfVictory

        So? There are two fundamental truths to hockey: 1) you win games by getting more goals than the other team 2) more shots will lead to more goals.

        Kris Russell’s effect on the ice results in a worse ratio of shots when compared to other dmen in the same role. How can you possibly defend that? Who cares if he does some things right, if the end result is that the Flames’ goalie gets lit up?

        “Durrr but shot quality”. If he’s preventing high quality shots, why is his on-ice save percentage the third worst of Flames dmen? There is literally no statistic anywhere that indicates “Kris Russell is doing a good job as a 2nd pairing dman.”

        His outlet passes are mediocre, his gap control is sub-par, his stick work is average, and he can’t take the body to save his life. The only things he does particularly well in the defensive and neutral zone are block shots and skate. It’s great that he tries really hard (and man does he ever look like he puts out a lot of effort), but tons of not-very-good players do that. Lance Bouma does that. Niklas Hagman used to look like he was literally giving 110%. Tim Jackman played with so much heart that he may as well have had two of them. But none of those guys were or are anything more than bottom six forwards, and Russell really should not be more than a 5th defenceman.

  • PrairieStew

    Yes – a third pairing guy. Got at least 3 others (Smid, Wideman, Engelland) that are on the books for another year after this one.

    I know the Islanders are looking for more for Hamonic, but I think it is worth a try for the Flames to pitch Russell as part of a package. Adding in a defence prospect that has top 4 potential would be required, so one of Andersson, Kylington or Hickey would be included. Sweeten the deal with cheap help at forward ( Colborne or Bollig) and another f prospect ( Arnold or Jankowski) and you’ve got a pretty big package that covers the present and the future for NYI.

  • smith

    Wideman was a top four defence before coming to Calgary (sure he was known more for his offence). You really sure it is him bringing down the pairing? It seems much more likely that it is the defenceman who two teams did not trust with top four minutes.

  • ClayBort

    Also Loubo ranted and raved about the Flames PK faceoff percentage yesterday and how it was the secret to fixing the PK. We did the math and found if the Flames improved to a level that he felt was acceptable, they would need to win 25 more PK d zone faceoffs than they are currently on pace for. This would equate to .25 less goals against for the rest of the season.

    Oh by the way, that is not .25 less goals against per game…. that is .25 total goals saved for the rest of the season… it wouldn’t even save the Flames a single goal.

    Having a media job doesn’t make you a hockey expert.

    • MontanaMan

      Nor does being a stats blogger who has never played the game. For my money, I will take the opinion of those who have played or been in the game at the NHL level over someone who studies stats. The players and coaches in the league know who contributes, and who’s stats are very misleading.

      • ClayBort

        Yes but nobody here is professing to be an expert. We’ve agreed you have to be a good coach or bring something valuable to the table to be employed at the highest level… For that reason most “stats nerds”, myself included, favor evaluating pros against peers and not pros against bloggers.

      • SmellOfVictory

        Really? Is that why David Clarkson and David Bolland got five million dollar contracts? Because “hockey people” have infallible judgment? Why Dion Phaneuf got traded basically for garbage plus Matt Stajan? And Olli Jokinen was shoehorned into a “first line centre” role on the Flames where he had absolutely zero chemistry with Iginla for an extended period? Because playing hockey somehow means a person is an impeccably good judge of player ability?

        Everyone has biases and cognitive blind spots, and that includes coaches and players.

  • ClayBort

    Sometimes the stats don’t pass the eye tes. However in Russell’s case, they do. It’s not just a stem of bad luck for a poor plus/minus. Many of the goals against are a direct result of a poor play by Russell. Or results from Russell (and Wideman is guilty of this because his terrible skating ability) being too conservative on entries and allowing easy entries by the opposition, leading him to rely too much on blocking shots.

    Russell is probably an NHL caliber defenseman, albeit on the 3rd pair. That doesn’t bode well if he wants a big raise in the offseason.

  • everton fc

    Russell and Smid would be an adequate 3rd pairing. Gio/Brodie then Hamilton/Kulak. Those would be adequate lines (sans Hamonic!). Move Wideman (and an NHL player or NHL-ready prospect for Hamonic?!) and keep Engelland as your #7. Or, move Smid if he plays well to a team in need of depth, call up Wotherspoon or Culkin…

    “Rebuild”, right?

    Of course, with Russell’s UFA status pending… He’ll be moved. I see that as almost “obvious”, regardless of how Hartley feels. Unrelated, if Hartley can get the boys doing what they did last evening, and get them on a run that gets them > .500… Hartley may still be around when Russell’s fate is finally determined.

    • OKG

      I think it is safe to say that Nakladal has jumped ahead of Wortherspoon and probably Kulak. For some reason, Hartley refuses to bring him up and see what he can do. I do hope he is the next to come up when they decide that Smid can’t play at this level anymore.

  • sathome

    If Russell is better than his underlying numbers suggest, how so? He’s 5th in defensive scoring on the Flames, and I would argue that 5th is an accurate assessment of his offensive skill. He’s not overly physical, he’s poor at suppressing shots, and his plus-minus is below average on a bad team. His only real skill is being an above average shot blocker (according to Steve Burtch, one of those stat-nerds).

    What other intangibles does he bring? How do they help the team? How do you justify giving him more than third pairing minutes, other than “we don’t have a better option”?

    • OKG

      I think we are being too hard on Russell, I am not a fan but to say he does not have any redeeming qualities is not accurate. He is an above average skater, he does have a quick stick as demonstrated by the amount of times he can poke the puck away. Now, I don’t think he has an NHL quality shot and his accuracy is poor. He is a warrior that should have a more limited role.

  • OKG

    The thing that bothers me about Russell’s game is that you can coach the flaws out of his game with some video work, but there seems to be no progress being made. I’m not saying he’ll ever be Rafalski or Stralman but it seems to be a philosophy problem with him rather than a capability problem. He the other team zone exits too easily and zone entries even more easily. Last night against the stars in the third, twice the opponent just carried the puck out of the zone while Russell backed off behind the blue line on a loose puck.

    How do you convince Russell about the importance of possession if you’re not going to preach it?

    • This is a good question because it underlines the biggest hurdle folks tend to ignore:

      Application of the data.

      If you’re the analytics guy for a team, getting through to the coaching staff about the results is the biggest key. Without the coach’s buy-in, the data is essentially worthless.

      • OKG

        How can us fans get to the point of coaching buy-in? The MSM has no interest in getting to the “core” of the issues and the blogosphere seems to be unable to really look at gray areas critically without resorting to black and white claims that hurting their credibility.

        • I don’t think it’s on the fans by any means to get into the coach buy-in. That’s purely a personal and professional decision by the coach. As much as we give MSM individuals flack for their lack of pressing for critical and thoughtful analysis, some still give it.

          There are also plenty who want to tow the line and keep it in the same muddied waters of the bygone era.

          It’s still a lot of stigma, old boys club mantras, and the “well you’ve never played the game” argument (also displayed in comments here) that provides fodder for making it divisive.

          With regards to the credibility thing you mention, I don’t know specifically what you mean. If it’s a matter of changing their story/platform to fit the story, some do that. If it’s with regards to their content’s accessibility then I also agree to varying degrees.

          It’s an awkward middle-ground bloggers are put in and by no means is this a “woe is me” statement. Some want to be in the media, some want to do their own thing, and some want to change the way we think about the game.

          The main underlying thing should always be “is my content understood without being too ‘dumbed’ down?”

          I don’t know if that answers anything you were getting at though.

  • KACaribou

    Before I sign off for a while, I wanted to add one more thing.

    The thing I hate most about advanced stats is that it has caught the interest of nerds who would normally be watching old Star Trek episodes or gearing up for the next Star Wars convention.

    Though nobody would ever let them play sports, they have now found a niche in which they can participate with real hockey fans and people who have actually played the game.

    With that thought I will sign off, but will enjoy the rhetorical posts I have caused them to react with. Until next time… (The defense of Kris Russell rests)

    • ClayBort

      I played junior hockey and Senior Mens’ amateur (Fleury was in our league during his NHL ban).

      I’m really thankful those guys let me play. Without them, I might work at NASA and not be married.

      Oh PS… Most people here have probably played, or watched for a very long time. However, they don’t wear blinders when they come across new ideas. They see the value in a curious mind trying to improve the status quo.

    • Cfan in Vic

      I didn’t realize liking Star Trek and playing sports were mutually exclusive (perceived world implodes).

      Aren’t antiquated stereotypes just the best?

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      “We have things we don’t care to publicly talk about that we think are really important in those analytics, and they prove true over a period of time, over the graph of it. It doesn’t necessarily mean tonight it’s going to have an impact or anything, but after so many games… it does.”

      That quote is from the nerdiest of all nerds.

      Bet that guy never played the game. Oh… wait… that was Darryl Sutter.

      Here’s a guy with an old school mentality that was willing to embrace new thinking. What team does he coach? The best puck possession team in the league the last few seasons… bar none.


    • Tomas Oppolzer

      You know what I love about your comments. You’re never civil with people that disagree with you. You never counter other peoples opinions with actual stats or fact-based analysis. You just call people dummies or nerds. Honestly, it’s like arguing with my 11 year old sister. She doesn’t care about facts, all she cares about is being the loudest damn voice, even if people are beyond over what she has to say. Maybe try to bring some evidence to back your comments rather than insults.

  • beloch

    Honestly, Russel isn’t that slow. He could do a better job of preventing shots if he didn’t do his “skate like an Egyptian” routine the moment he sees someone at the point with the puck. The problem with blocking too much is that the shots that you do let through tend to be screened or deflected. Skate out there and get your stick into the play! Working on this aspect of his game won’t win Russel kudos from Don Cherry, but it would make him a more useful player.

  • mattyc

    I like how we talk about “The Game” like it’s this static thing. The hockey that Rhett Warrener played 15 years ago isn’t even the same as today, let alone what guys like Orr played. People would be wise to think critically and independently rather than fall back on the gospel of someone who ‘played the game’ during the Cold War.

  • OKG

    @ Kent.

    Thats true and a good way to look at a return. If we get a better than 5th rnd pick then what we really have gotten is years of service plus a relative move up in the draft. Thats not bad Asset Management.

  • Derzie

    If you’ve ever done minor hockey evaluations, you’ve had the Kris Russell debate. There are always guys that give all their marks to hitters. Guys that value hustle above all else. Guys that worship pretty goals & passes. Guys that value positioning. All of them are right and all of them are wrong at the same time. A player is all of those things and more including how well they fit into the system, how they make their teammates play, how invested they are. Micro-analyzing Russell’s stats is legit, correct and wrong/incomplete.So are the MSM impressions.Arguing about who is more right is wasted keystrokes.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Wow, the pro Oilers Nations writers are really trying hard to make sure everyone (The Islanders) know how bad Russell is, it’s almost as if they are trying to prevent Russell from being part of a Hamonic trade package….

    Of course I could have it wrong again…


  • Burnward

    Watched a lot of players beat Russell to pucks or walk around him on the way to the net. Someone should make a video lowlights reel of his play. It would be a pretty telling “eye test”. Wideman would provide a lot of similar lowlight content. They both kind of remind me of the type of lowlights Phaneuf produced.

    I know folks might say Hamilton would also, but the kid is only 22 and looking better of late.

    I hope Wideman and Russell improve, but Kent’s statistics state what we are seeing is who they really are, Liable D.

    “Liable D” a good name for a band!

  • Cfan in Vic

    You missed the boat Kent. Russell has heart and leadership. Something the Captain has lacked lately. Gio has the worst plus/minus on the team. Not much said about that after he signs his new extension.
    I would also take Russell over lazy boy Wideman.