When Hitchcock was in Columbus, he had a very young Russell on his roster, so the knowledge and familiarity were there.
And when searching for a spot to insert Russell, the veteran Hitchcock didn't waste any time giving Roman Polak his fourth defensive partner with the season barely a month old.
Hitchcock didn't mind matching the duo despite their physical differences and playing styles. It was like matching oil and water.
Polak, a big, burly 6-foot-1, 225-pound right-handed muscle mass known to punish opponents on his side of the ice, and Russell, the smallish 5-10, 172-pound wispy but dart-like left-handed skater who transitions the puck smoothly from one zone to the other.
It would never work.
Or would it?
"I thought we developed [chemistry] pretty early," Russell told NHL.com. "I thought we had a good regular season together."