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Amid trade deadline distractions, Russell focused on his return

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

I try to block it out the best I can. Obviously it sneaks in there a bit. I’m just trying to go about my business and help this team.Kris Russell on trade rumors

CALGARY, AB -- As much as he would like to, Kris Russell hasn't been able to avoid hearing his name amongst NHL Trade Deadline rumors.

The 28-year-old, slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, had made a point not to read anything written about him at this time of the year but his friends and family have mentioned that his name has been popping up as the deadline approaches.

"I don’t’ get involved in that," he said after Thursday’s practice at the Scotiabank Saddledome. "I don’t read what’s going on. Obviously my name is coming up. I want to be a Calgary Flame, I’ve said that. But sometimes you don’t get what you want. I’m just looking forward to getting back and helping this team as much as I can until I hear differently.

"I try to block it out the best I can. Obviously it sneaks in there a bit. I’m just trying to go about my business and help this team."

Rather than dwell on a situation that he doesn't have any control over, Russell has been working diligently on getting back in the lineup. He has missed the last five games with a lower body injury but has recently been cleared by the medical staff.

It is now up to him to give the green light on his ability to return, which may be as soon as this evening's clash with the New York Islanders at 7:00 PM MT (SN-West, FAN 960).

"I feel pretty good. I’ve had a few good skates and every day it seems to get better so that’s a positive sign.

"It was a good skate this morning. I think we’re going to wait until game time so that’s all I’ve heard so that’s all I’m going to go with."

As stressful as the NHL Trade Deadline can be for players, Russell has struggled more with his inability to help his teammates.

The Flames have lost four of their last five games and dropped their last two games, 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday and 2-1 to the LA Kings on Tuesday.

Russell made the trip to California with the team, making it even more unbearable to be relegated to the press box as his team was bested by their divisional rivals.

"I just want to play," he stated. "I think the hardest thing for me this week was seeing your teammates in a losing battle the last few games. I want to be a part of a winning team and I want to be here. I feel like when you’re not helping your team out, you’re letting them down a bit. As soon as I can get back in the lineup, I want to."

It isn't just Russell dealing with pressure of the looming NHL Trade Deadline. Several Flames names have been floating around the rumor mill over the last month but the club has tried to block out any external noise.

"This is the time of the year; it doesn’t change anything with our day-to-day business. We have games to win, we want to make a push for the playoffs, we know our situation," head coach Bob Hartley said.

"They are being unbelievable pros but at the same time we never talk about this. We know what is going on and you just have to follow the news. It’s second-to-second. It’s nothing new and it just a couple of days where we need to prepare."

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