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October 06, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Russ Courtnall


In the weeks leading into the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, Dave King gave try outs to three junior players on the Canadian national team. All three - Dave Gagner, Kirk Muller and Russ Courtnall - made the Olympic team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs' general manager pushed for the idea in Courtnall's case, believing such a move would be good for his development. 

''He told me to come here and play as hard as I can,'' the Victoria Cougar said. ''A year ago, I was just getting used to moving up to junior from midget. I learned in the junior league, I learned with the junior nationals and I'll learn more here before I'm ready to step into the pros. 

Courtnall was elated when he learned he made the Olympic team.

''I was tired and I played on nerves, but I was lucky to have a linemate like Gord Sherven.'' 

Courtnall was certainly everything they said he was,'' King said proudly. Courtnall gave the Canadians elite level speed and could chip in offensively. He scored one goal and four points in seven Olympic contests.

Canada's offense completely dried up by the end of the Olympics. They were shutout in their final three contests, including in the bronze medal deciding game. Courtnall came the closest to scoring on the Swedes but he hit the post on a second period breakaway.

Courtnall went on to be one of the more exciting NHL players of his era, playing in over 1000 NHL games.

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