Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan made an impassioned stand in defence of defenceman Kris Russell on Saturday.

The Oilers lost a heartbreaker against the Toronto Maple Leafs in regulation on Thursday after Russell shot the game-winning goal into his own net with 1:05 remaining.

Russell, who’s typically played on Edmonton’s third pairing this season, is a polarizing figure in hockey; a shot-blocking defenceman who will earn $4 million a season through 2020-21.

“Kris Russell is a character individual and that’s why our team cares so much about him,” said McLellan, before referring to Russell’s own-goal on Thursday. “Whoever’s criticizing this individual probably has never played a competitive sport in their life and if they have and they’ve been perfect and that event never occurred to them, then they should be in the Hall of Fame somewhere.

“Mistakes happen.”

The worst part of Thursday’s gaffe might have been that it spoiled an otherwise impressive performance from the 30-year-old.