Northwest Athlete Profile: Former Canuck Russ Courtnall

NHL: Russ Courtnall

While his brother Geoff went undrafted, Russ was a teenager with a lot of hype. Putting up 97 points in 60 games for the Victoria Cougars in 1982-83, Courtnall was drafted 7th overall in the 1983 entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Born: June 2, 1965 In Duncan B.C.

The following year Courtnall dominated the WHL, scoring 66 points in just 32 games. His performance earned him a quick call up to the Leafs where he put up 12 points in 14 games.

Despite these Bozak-ian numbers, Courtnall struggled in his first full year with the Leafs putting up just 22 points.Courtnall left the Leafs midway through the season to represent Canada at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics.

Despite a 4-1 record in group play, the Canadian squad was unable to score a goal in the four team final round and came home without a medal.

The following year, 1985-86, was Courtnall’s breakout year. Playing on the Hound Line with Wendel Clark and Gary Leeman, Russ put up 22 goals and 60 points for the Leafs and established his place on the roster. Courtnall would top those numbers the following season with 78 points.

The 1987-88 season was a regression for Courtnall as the Leafs attempted to force him to play a tougher, more defensive style in hockey.

After limited success with his new role, the Leafs traded Courtnall nine games into the following year for Montreal Canadiens enforcer John Kordic.

Russ Courtnall

Russ Courtnall Northwest Athlete Profile

Courtnall had an immediate impact on the Habs and contributed 13 points in Montreal’s playoff run that year. The Canadiens would lose to the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final.

After a few years of similarly productive seasons, the Canadiens traded Courtnall to Minnesota for Brian Bellows in 1992. In the last year of the Minnesota North Stars, Courtnall had a career year with 36 goals and 79 points. The following season, as a Dallas Star, Courtnall did one point better and hit a new career high of 80 points.

In April of 1995, the Stars traded Courtnall to Vancouver for Greg Adams, Dan Kesa and a fifth round pick. Courtnall played 13 game with his brother Geoff in Vancouver that year before Geoff signed as a free agent with the Blues the following year.

Courtnall would have one more productive year in Vancouver before being traded to the New York Rangers with Esa Tikkkanen for Sergei Nemchinov and Brian Noonan just prior to the trade deadline. Courtnall would play 15 playoff games for the Rangers that year before signing as a free agent with Los Angeles in the off-season.

Now 32 years old, Courtnall’s famous speed was fading, and he managed just 37 points in two seasons with the Kings before retiring.

Considering his family’s history of depression, it was no surprise that Courtnall stepped up to replace Wade Belak in CBC’s Battle of the Blades after the former Leaf enforcer tragically took his own life this summer.

Courtnall and his skate partner Kim Navarro were eliminated on October 10 in a split-decision loss to Tanith Belbin and Boyd Devereaux.


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About Richard Hodges

A proud Vancouverite with a lifelong passion for the home teams that some would classify as pointless and disturbing. Now realizes that The Linden Tree is not the play you think it would be.
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