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Converted From Football By Herb Brooks

By staff, 12/30/16, 3:45PM CST


Washburn's Russ Anderson Enters the Minneapolis Hockey Hall of Fame

Russ Anderson’s hockey career began at Kenny Park in south Minneapolis where he skated for Coach Olive through seventh grade.  All practices and games were outdoors.  Anderson’s first indoor hockey was playing for the Washburn VFW Bantam team in 8th & 9th Grade.  He then moved on to a three year varsity career at Washburn High School where in addition to hockey he was the catcher on the baseball team and an All State Linebacker, leading Washburn to the 1972 Football State Championship.

At 6'3" and 215 lbs. Anderson went to the University of Minnesota on a football scholarship and was a likely future NFL linebacker. Anderson still loved playing ice hockey and skated for the U of M J.V. Hockey team his freshman year.  A football ankle injury in the fall of 1974 was significant enough that surgery was scheduled.  The night before the surgery Anderson received a visit from U of M Hockey Coach Herb Brooks.  Brooks told Anderson to hold off on the surgery and come see him at the hockey rink the next morning.  That next morning Brooks handed Anderson his skates and said see if you can fit your foot and ankle into your skate.  When Anderson was able to do so Brooks told him to see if he could skate.  Anderson could with minimal pain.  Herb Brooks then told him “you are no longer a football player, you are a hockey player.  I want you to hit anything that moves.  I will teach you how to be a top level defenseman”.  Brooks also confirmed for Anderson his football scholarship was now a hockey scholarship.  As the saying goes “the rest is history”.

Under Coach Brooks, Anderson became a world class defenseman.  He skated two seasons for the Golden Gophers, winning the 1976 NCAA Championships. 

In the spring of 1975 Anderson was drafted 31st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins and 22nd by the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets.  Anderson’s NHL debut was in 1976 with the Penguins, leading to a career which spanned ten seasons and 519 NHL games during which he scored 22 goals, 99 assists and was penalized 1086 minutes and was named Captain of the Hartford Whalers. 

In addition to his NHL career Anderson skated for the U.S. National Team, including the 1977 World Championships when he was Assistant Captain and played for Coaches Lou Nanne and John Mariaucci.

Kenny Park and Washburn High School are proud to call Russ Anderson one of their own as is Minneapolis Hockey and the Minneapolis Hockey Hall of Fame. Check out Minneapolis Hockey's fantastic history by visiting the Hall of Fame....CLICK HERE

Anderson, center front row, was named Captain of the 1982-83 NHL Hartford Whalers

The Russ Anderson File

Washburn High School Hockey - 1972-74

Washburn Football

  • All State Linebacker
  • 1973 State Football Champions

University of Minnesota Gophers - 1974-1976

  • NCAA National Champion 1976

1975 NHL Draft - Drafted 31st by Pittsburgh Penguins

1977  - USA National Team - Assistant Captain

NHL Career - 1977 - 1985 - Penguins, Whalers, Kings

  • 519 Games, 22 Goals, 99 Assists


Anderson, 2nd row, fifth from left

Golden Gopher Gold! 1976 NCAA National Champs!

The Thrill of Victory - Anderson and fellow Gophers celebrate their National Championship

Anderson was drafted by and played six seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Anderson was the Captain of the NHL's Hartford Whalers