Caroline is one of those Central Alberta communities that is sandwiched between Flames and Oil Country.

Kris Russell, though, grew up on the right side of the tracks. The newest addition to Calgary’s defence corps swears it.

“Our family, we were Flames fans,” Russell insisted. “I grew up watching the Flames, and when we got the opportunity to go to an NHL game, we always went to the Saddledome and watched the Flames. That’s the part that makes this really exciting.

“The opportunity to actually wear the Flames jersey is pretty overwhelming.”

That doesn’t mean the entire community of Caroline was celebrating Friday when their hometown boy, Russell, joined the Flames in Friday’s sign-and-trade with the St. Louis Blues.

The Flames surrendered a fifth-round selection for the 26-year-old restricted free agent, who inked a one-year, US$1.5-million pact to get the deal done. Although Russell was on waivers earlier this week, the Flames didn’t want to inherit an arbitration case.

“I’ve got some interesting texts here lately from my buddies,” Russell said with a laugh. “But they’re good friends, they’ll support me.”

When Flames GM Jay Feaster told reporters he was still shopping for a third-pairing defenceman, most figured he’d bring in a brute.

At 5-foot-10 and 173 lb., Russell isn’t going to scare Ryan Getzlaf or Joe Thornton from skating through the middle of the ice, but he’s not shy to get his nose dirty, either.