December 04, 2010
So why have you never heard of him? Probably because he retired several years before the formation of the National Hockey League.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965, Russel starred with the Montreal Victorias (in several different amateur leagues) from 1894 through to 1909. He actually retired rather than turn profession when the Vics were forced to turn pro in 1909.
In his notable career he scored 110 goals in 67 games. Once he scored 7 goals in one game. He also had memorable nights scoring 6 goals and 5 goals.
Despite his offensive prowess, he was often overshadowed by his teammate, Russell Bowie. Blair would actually be best known not for his offensive exploits but for being a very clean player who was as good defensively as offensively. A real speedster, he likely would have won a couple defensive forward awards had their been such an award back then.
Newspapermen of the day appreciated Russel as being one of the best players of the early 20th century, naming him to an unofficial all star team of the best hockey players in the land. Other players so honoured included Bowie, Harvey Pulford, Frank McGee, Alf Smith, and Billy Gilmour.