HHOF: Cam Russell

I'm picking Cam Russell with the second pick because I want you to know right away that this Happiness Hall of Fame will take some weird turns.

* * *

In the early 1990s, my buddy Chardon Jimmy and I worked together for a few months at The Augusta Chronicle. We were young then, young and stupid and entirely unready for responsibility. I would say, by percentage, conservatively, we spent 19% of our time playing Sega Hockey.

Man, did we love that game. We played on the same team, and that team was the Chicago Blackhawks. Because, you know, Jeremy Roenick. He was unstoppable.

As hockey teammates, we were like Roenick: Unstoppable ... on offense, anyway. On defense, we stunk. We couldn't defend at all. Breakaways? Three-on-ones? We gave them up by the dozen. And, as we saw it, there was a very specific reason for this:

Frantisek Kucera.

I don't know what kind of player Frantisek Kucera was in real life, but in Sega Hockey, he was a bowling pin. We would lose the puck in the neutral zone, and we'd send Kucera charging, and he would just bounce off. We screamed "Kucera!" 50 times every day we were in Augusta together.

Finally, we had enough. We went to the bench. And we said: "Eh, never heard of him, but let's try Cam Russell."

I cannot tell you how happy Cammy Russell has made me in my life.

He was a Sega monster. I have no idea why he was on the bench. He would shut down offenses singlehandedly. Opponents would be on the fly, two-on-one, three-on-one, and BLAMMO! Cam Russell would just disintegrate someone with a check. It was glorious and hilarious and comically violent and so wonderful.

If I ever saw the real Cam Russell play, I don't remember it. I guess, based on his stats, he was something of a bruiser (200 penalty minutes in 67 games isn't bad), and I see that he is/was coach and GM of the Halifax Mooseheads, which is fantastic. But who needs reality? For one year, after childhood but before adulthood, when we were single and broke and thin and seemed to have a lot more time to waste, Cam Russell made me laugh and shout and cheer as much as any real player ever could.

* * *