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CBJ Prospect Kris Russell Named WHL Player of the Year

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Kris Russell, the Columbus Blue Jackets' third pick, 67th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, has won the Four Broncos Trophy as the Western Hockey League Player of the Year and the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the league's Defenseman of the Year for the 2006-07 season, the club announced today.

Russell, who was a WHL First All-Star Team selection, tallied 32 goals and 37 assists for 69 points in 59 games this season, leading the Medicine Hat Tigers in goals and points and all league defensemen in scoring. He also scored a team-high 22 power play goals and registered a +14 plus/minus rating. In addition, he has racked up 4-12-16 and is a +7 in 16 playoff games in leading the Tigers to the WHL Finals against the Vancouver Giants. The best-of-seven series is set to begin on Friday.

The WHL Player of the Year is considered the most prestigious individual award of the Western Hockey League. The Four Broncos Memorial Trophy is named in memory of the four members of the Swift Current Broncos who died in a bus accident on December 30, 1986. Russell is the the third player from Medicine Hat to be named Player of the Year in the WHL since the honor began in 1966-67. Other past winners include Jarome Iginla (1995-96), Ray Whitney (1990-91) and Joe Sakic (1987-88).

The 20-year-old native of Caroline, Alberta was named the WHL's Top Defenseman for the second consecutive season, as he also captured the award in 2005-06. By being honored again in 2006-07, Russell joins Dion Phaneuf (2003-04 and 2004-05) and Nolan Baumgartner (1994-95 and 1995-96) as back-to-back winners of the award.

During his four WHL seasons, he has registered 76-120-196 and 141 penalty minutes in 241 career games. In 1995-96, he was named the Canadian Hockey League's Sportsman of the Year, won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy and captured his second consecutive WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player Award after tallying 14-33-47 in 55 games. He also played for Team Canada at the last two World Junior Championships, winning gold medals both years.

Deposits are now being accepted for the 2007-08 season. For information on season tickets, mini-plans and group tickets, call (614) 246-PUCK or (800) NHL-COLS.

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