View Single Post
04-27-2012, 05:33 PM
Rob Scuderi
Registered User
Rob Scuderi's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2009
Country: United States
Posts: 3,378
vCash: 500
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Part of the issue with Blair Russell's playmaking is the same as Bowie's - there is reason to believe that nobody was a great playmaker back then, as the majority of goals were scored on individual rushes in the days of "parallel hockey." Cyclone Taylor appears to be the first player to make setting up his teammates a priority.

That said, SIHR did reconstruct assists based off newspaper reports and they tend to indicate that Alf Smith was way ahead of everyone else in assists, but it's unknown how much of that was good passing and how much was giving the puck to Frank McGee or Marty Walsh and letting them do the rest. Stats someone else compiled should that Russel Bowie led "the pack" as #2 among reconstructed assists, but he was definitely known as a goal scorer. (I just re-did the stats myself and they make it look much closer)

Russell Bowie and Blair Russel were long term teammates, so I really don't see how there would be a newspaper bias in favor of one or the other. These are the reconstructed assists for them when they were teammates. *We only have reconstructed assists for 1903, 1904, 1906, 1907 and 1908, so these are the seasons I'm using.

Russell Bowie: 22 assists in 44 games (0.5 APG)
Blair Russel: 18 assists in 36 games (0.5 APG)

Actually, they are exactly even on a per game basis, with Bowie maintaining it over more games. I don't know how others calculated their stats before that showed Bowie ahead, maybe they included seasons where assists weren't reconstructed for any player.

I highly suspect this still makes Rusell Bowie the better playmaker:
•Bowie didn't have the best goal scorer of the era (himself) to pass to
•Bowie had more longevity, both in terms of games played when assists were reconstructed, but also more productive seasons when they were not recorded.

They are definitely closer than I thought based off the stats I've seen presented elsewhere. Still, playmaking isn't what either man is remembered for. Bowie is anecdotally known for his goal scoring dominance and obsession with being an amateur and Blair Russel was anecdotally known for his defense and one big goal scoring season.

Oh just for fun, a comparison of their goal scoring when they played together (1900-1908):

Russell Bowie: 227 goals in 73 games ( 3.11 GPG)
Blair Russell: 106 goals in 69 games (1.54 GPG)

Bowie more than doubled his teammate's goal production (I'm sure that isn't surprising, just wanted to point it out).
I think Russel had three pretty good scoring seasons. 3rd(1904), 2nd(1905), 3rd(1907). He only played 4 games in 1906. I think you're underselling Russel's offensive reputation even though he was no Bowie.

I struggled to find much of anything about Russel, but I do have one archived article from 1908 of the Vics playing the Wanderers. It mentions "combination" plays and the Vics teamwork so it seems like they did more than just rush themselves. It mentions how Art Ross and Frank Patrick struggled to cross center ice during the first half because both forward groups were checking so tightly.

Russel also refused to turn pro:
Originally Posted by LoH
When the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association became outright professional in 1909, Russel refused all offers to play for the Montreal Wanderers and retired, his amateur status intact.
Here's some of the info in that article
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - Jan 14, 1908
Vics were cutting out a heart-breaking pace and on the finer points of the game, clever stickhandling, nice combintion and speedy skating were showing an all around superiority to Wanderers. Blair Russel gave Vics the first fruits of their brilliant work by scoring in a combination run, in which the disc passed from Kennedy in the centre to Gimour on the right wing. Gilmour flung the disc clean across to the other wing and Blair Russel coming in with a great burst of speed picked up the pass and beat out Hern.

The crowd had scarcely settled back in their seats after the prolonged outburst of applause which greeted Russel's clever score, when Bowie dashing in on the nets, banged in a rebound from Hern thirty seconds after the face off. Vics began to show signs of tiring about this period of the match, but they hung on game'y and maintaining a fair lead in the play scored their third and the last goal of the half in nine minutes, Bowie again doing the trick.

In the second half, ten minutes after the start, it was quite evident that Vics were fading under the fast pace and the close checking.
The teams were too evenly matched and there was too much at stake for spectacular team work. The checking was hard and persistent, and the men covered up so closely that neither forward line could break clear from the other. What team work there was in the game Vics showed and at times it was clever in the extreme...While Vics lasted they were the better in almost every respect. Certainly the more aggressive in working around the opposing team's goal. The early pace was too fast for them and when they began to weaken Wanderers were traveling almost as well as at the start. It was a wearing down process pure and simple.

Victorias had a great pair of wings in Blair Russel and Billy Gilmour...Russel, on the side, fought it out with Blachford, and although both did good work, Russel carried off the honors on the hour's play. Time and again he tore down the side from behind his line and caught a pass just at the right moment and swung the disc with lightning shots in on the Wanderer defence. Both he and Gilmour were checking back tirelessly until the last ten minutes of play.

Bowie Clever As Ever
In centre ice, too, Victorias were stronger than Wanderers until the team collapsed in the last fifteen minutes. Bowie and E. Russell were the scorers of their respective teams. Bowie scored three times...Bowie covered by (Pud) Glass like a home player on a lacrosse team, and cross-checked and buffeted about every time he came near the Wanderer goals. Once he was provoked to retaliation, with the result that both he and Glass were banished for a five-minute rest.

Nothing could keep Bowie away from the nets, and his eyes and wrist are apparently as quick as ever. He was tired under the close attention he was receiving, however, but even then, when he looked all in, he would break away with a fine show of reserve strength. After the score had been tied at three all he was following Patrick up the ice. Patrick passed to Hale, but the disc was knocked out of Hale's way, and Bowie, coming through like a flash, picked it out, and, swinging around to the front of the Wanderers nets, placed his team in the lead for the last time.

In the first two minutes of play Blair Russel netted one for the Vics, but an offside was called and the goal did not count...Blair Russel and Bowie made two combined dashes in on Hern, but Hern saved each time...Blair Russel and Gilmour were tearing down on the wings and Bowie and Hale were worrying Ross and Hern...Patrick started a rush from the Vic quarter, carried the disc in on Hern and passed to Bowie. Bowie's first shot was stopped, but his second found the twine...Russel and Gilmour starred with dashes in from the side and hot shots at Hern...Smail slashed Blair Russel across the arms as the latter was coming in for what looked like a sure score.

Rob Scuderi is offline   Reply With Quote