Despite being a good junior hockey player in his own-right, growing up in Duncan, B.C., Geoff Courtnall was often referred to as "Russ Courtnall's older brother." It's something that never bothered the elder Courtnall, who says his first love growing up was soccer. In fact, Geoff Courtnall did not begin playing hockey until he was nine years old, and even then it was only after having watched Russ play from the time he was three.
Geoff Courtnall was definitely a late bloomer, which is partly attributable to his being small as a child. At 18, he was still playing Tier II hockey in the BCJHL before getting called up to the Victoria Cougars for eleven games in 1980-81 where he scored eight points. The following year, he played a full season with the Cougars, scoring 35 goals and 92 points in 72 games and fewer and fewer people were calling him "Russ's older brother." Now 19, and not drafted, Courtnall really had no option than to return to the Cougars as an overage player in an attempt to catch the attention of the pro scouts. As a 20-year-old, Courtnall appeared in 71 games, scoring 41 times while assisting on 73 others for 114 points while also racking up a feisty 186 minutes in penalties.
That extra year in junior hockey caught the attention of several NHL teams, including the Boston Bruins who signed Courtnall to a contract. In 1983-84, he appeared in 74 games with the Hershey Bears before being called up for five games with the Bruins. The following year, Courtnall worked himself into the lineup for 64 games, scoring 12 goals and 28 points.
Courtnall played with the Bruins for another three seasons before being sent to the Edmonton Oilers late in the 1987-88 season where he had scored 32 goals and 58 points in 62 games. He dressed for 19 playoff games en route to the Oilers winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship. Ironically, the Oilers beat the Bruins in the Cup finals.
Over the next two years, Courtnall played for the Washington Capitals. In 1988-89, he had his most productive offensive season in the NHL, scoring 42 goals and 80 points in 79 games. In 1990-91, he joined the St. Louis Blues, but this stint lasted just 66 games before he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks. In 1993-94, Courtnall helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to the New York Rangers.
In 1995-96, Courtnall signed with the St. Louis Blues where he played until a neck injury forced his retirement six games in to the 1999-2000 season. Courtnall was clearly a success story, playing 17 NHL seasons, having never been drafted. He finished his career with 367 goals, 432 assists, and 799 points to go along with 109 playoff points.