In the 102-year history of the National Hockey League, 348 individuals have played 1,000 or more regular season games. 44 of them, or 12.6%, have played some part of their career with the Atlanta or Calgary Flames. We call these players Long-Timers.
Let’s take a look at Phil Russell.
A product of Edmonton, Alberta, Russell played his junior hockey with the Edmonton Oil Kings and was a first round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1972 NHL Draft.
He went pro the following season and played for Chicago from 1972 to 1979. He was a rock-solid two-way defender with offensive upside. He scored 45 points in 1976-77. He was swapped to the upstart Atlanta Flames midway through the 1978-79 season in an eight-player trade: Chicago sent Russell, Ivan Boldirev and Darcy Rota to Atlanta for Tom Lysiak, Pat Ribble, Harold Phillipoff, Greg Fox and Miles Zaharko.
He spent parts of five seasons with the Flames, moving to Calgary with the club and becoming the first Edmonton-area product to become Calgary’s captain following Brad Marsh’s departure in 1981. (The second? Jarome Iginla.) Russell was never Calgary’s best defender, but he continued to provide the Flames with dependable, reliable play.
Russell’s time with Calgary came to an end in 1983, as he was sent to New Jersey in a four player trade: the Devils got Russell and Mel Bridgman, while the Flames got Joel Quenneville and Steve Tambellini. (Yes, those guys.) As he crept into his 30s Russell’s play began to decline and so did his production. The Devils sent him to Buffalo at 1986’s trade deadline for a 12th round pick and he played just 18 games for the Sabres. His second game for Buffalo was his 1,000th in the NHL.
After a brief stint in Switzerland and a stopover with the IHL’s Kalamazoo Wings, Russell retired in 1988. Since retiring, he’s coached (in the IHL, AHL, DEL and ECHL) and worked as a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins.