I've always been a big Kris Russell fan. What can I say? I like swift-skating defensemen with talent, which is what Russell was billed as after the Blue Jackets chose him in the third round of the 2005 draft.
Unfortunately, he never quite made it in Columbus, playing in parts of five seasons before going to St. Louis for Nikita Nikitin in 2011. Since then, he's carved out a nice NHL career for himself, playing for five total NHL teams while becoming known not for his shot but his shot-blocking skills despite a 5-10 frame that is dwarfed by many of the men who also play his position.
Then came last night.
In a highlight that has lit up the hockey world, Russell was battling with Toronto's Nazem Kadri for a puck in front of his own net late in a 4-4 game. Russell spun and whacked at the puck, and let go a beautiful snipe. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong direction.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 1, 2017
The goal gave Toronto the lead with 1:05 to go, and Kadri added an empty-net goal to ice the Leafs' win. In fact, Kadri literally and figuratively got the last laugh.
Nazem Kadris reaction to Russells own goal was so mean pic.twitter.com/f8qcMBJYZn
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 1, 2017
The shame of it is Russell still finished with a strong stat line. He had a goal (a real one!), an assist, and was plus-2 in more than 24 minutes of action. Luckily, fans have been totally understanding of what happ-- OK maybe not.
Unfortunately, sometimes it's the worst moments that stand out, and we're betting Russell didn't get much sleep last night.