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Russell on the other side of the Battle of Alberta

The Calgary Flames are adjusting to seeing Kris Russell on the other side of the ice in the Battle of Alberta

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

CALGARY, AB -- The first text came in from TJ Brodie.

"Congrats."

The Calgary Flames defenceman should have tacked on a 'see you soon.'

Because Kris Russell, now with the Edmonton Oilers, will have seen his former teammates twice in 72 hours to start the regular season. 

"It's the nature of the beast," said Kris Russell, who signed a one-year contract with the Oilers on Oct. 7. "That's the way the business side of it is. Potentially, on a one-year contract, you could be on another team next year opposing them.

"If you'd ask me when I was in Calgary if I was going to play in Edmonton I'd probably laugh, but I'm really excited about the opportunity they're giving me.

"I appreciate a lot of those guys in the locker room. We did some good things in that room. It's the business side. You've got to move on. I'm excited to be here.

"I'm just trying to play under the systems and play my game and not worry too much about who I'm playing against."

Russell, who spent parts of three seasons with the Flames, is making his return to Calgary for the first time since being traded to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 29 in exchange for Jyrki Jokipakka, prospect Brett Pollock and a second round pick.

But it's not his first time facing his former mates.

That came in Edmonton's home opener on Wednesday, a 7-4 Oilers win that saw Russell record two assists, a plus-3 rating, and earn second star of the game. 

It was Calgary's first look at Russell in the orange and blue.

"Really weird," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "He's a guy we've played with for a few years here. Totally different seeing him play." 

Weird for Russell, too.

But hockey is hockey.

"You take that first hit and it changes your mindset a little bit," he said.

"You're going and you're playing your hockey game, trying to play within your systems and help your team win."

The new scenery isn't a drastic change for Russell.

He remains in the Battle of Alberta, albeit from the side that resides north.

He's surrounded by plenty of young talent. 

And there's plenty of optimism amongst his group.

Sounds familiar.

"There's always similarities but differences as well," Russell said. "This is a good group in this locker room. But I think it's fair to say all the teams I've played on … the hockey world is pretty good. You see a lot of good guys. There aren't too many dressing rooms with a lot of turmoil.

"It's been good here in Edmonton.

"This is a great locker room. You've got a little bit of everything. You've got some good, exciting young players coming up and some veterans who have played some years in the league. The depth on this team is a lot better than from years past. 

"There's an excitement in here. But we know we've got a lot to prove and earn in this league." 

In other words, Russell is looking forward.

Not back.

"Calgary was really good to me," he said. "I was very happy for the opportunity they gave me here.

"Now I turn the page, and I'm excited to be an Oiler."

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