In the wake of COVID-19 precautions, hockey fans all around the world are experiencing what they may refer to as misery. While the void of junior hockey is also not currently being filled in Western Canada, this article will look at the all-time Calgary Hitmen and the careers of the clubs all-time greats in each position.
Brad Moran 1996 – 2000
First on the list is Brad Moran who is also the only Hitmen player to have his jersey number raised to the Saddledome rafters.
The ever skilled centreman recorded 204 goals and a whopping 450 points in 357 games played, all of which were in the Hitmen sweater. These 357 games played also remain as the most in Hitmen franchise history.
After being passed up in his first year of draft eligibility, the Buffalo Sabres took a chance on Moran and selected him in the seventh round of the 1998 NHL Draft. Moran was also a major contributor for the 1999 Calgary team who fell just a game short in the Memorial Cup finals.
After his WHL career Moran went on to find success at the American Hockey League level while also appearing in eight NHL games. In his early 30’s, Brad took his talents to Europe where he remained for six years until his retirement in 2016-17.
Moran was also recently promoted to General Manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks.
Pavel Brendl 1999 – 2001
Despite only spending three full seasons with the Hitmen, the Czech born sniper Pavel Brendl provided the Hitmen with a unique scoring touch.
In his rookie WHL season, Brendl recorded 73 goals and 134 points in just 68 games. This was good enough for most points in the league while teammate Brad Moran tied for second. Later that year Brendl was selected fourth overall by the New York Rangers.
Brendl would go on to play two more seasons with the Hitmen.
These three seasons allowed the right-winger to capture the Hitmen record for points per game at 1.798. This record remains untouched today.
Brendl also was an offensive juggernaut in the 2001 Czech world junior championship gold medal victory.
Brendl struggled to ever find rhythm at the NHL level playing in just 78 games and recording 22 points, however, the former Hitmen standout enjoyed several strong seasons in various European leagues after leaving North America.
Ryan Getzlaf 2002 – 2005
The Hulking power forward and captain of the Anaheim Ducks was an obvious choice for the all-time Calgary Hitmen.
The native of Regina has checked off nearly every box when it comes to his hockey career. After joining the Hitmen as a 16-year-old, Getzlaf quickly made his presence known as a man amongst boys in the Western League.
Drafted to the Ducks, 15th overall in 2003, Getzlaf followed this up by winning silver and gold medals at the 2004 and 2005 World Junior tournaments.
Getzlaf ended his four years with the Hitmen with 95 goals and 215 points in 233 games. Since his Junior days, Getzlaf has added a number of notable accomplishments to his resume which include two Olympic Gold medals, a World Cup Championship and a Stanley Cup.
Matt Kinch 1996 – 2001
An offensive beast of a defenseman, Kinch added an unmatched spark for the Calgary defense core for five full seasons.
Kinch also leads all Hitmen defenseman in points per game.
After being chosen by Buffalo in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL draft, Kinch made the 2000 Canadian World Junior club. Kinch returned for his overage season and set career highs in goals and points.
The Red Deer, AB native also led the WHL in points by a defenseman in both the 1999 and 2000 campaigns.
Since his playing career ended after several stops in Europe, Matt spent two years scouting for his hometown Red Deer Rebels from 2012 – 2014.
Travis Sanheim 2013 – 2016
After spending just a single season with the Calgary Hitmen in 2014 where he recorded 29 points in 67 games, the Philadelphia Flyers saw serious potential in the two-way blueliner and selected him 17th overall in that year’s draft.
Sanheim, a ninth-round pick of the Hitmen in the 2011 Bantam draft, proved to be one of the biggest steals in recent history.
The big-bodied multi-dimensional defender was an alternate captain for his two final seasons with the Hitmen and also a participant for the Canadian team in the 2016 World Junior tournament.
Since his days with the Hitmen, Sanheim has solidified his job as a top-four defender for the Flyers and just last year signed a bridge deal trough the end of the 2020-21 season.
Martin Jones 2007 – 2010
Although the last two years have been anything but easy for the San Jose Sharks netminder, the 30-year-old native of North Vancouver has proved his worth at both the major junior and NHL level throughout his career.
Coming to Calgary as a 16-year-old netminder, Jones holds a record tied with Chris Driedger for most games played as a Hitmen goaltender.
Jones also landed a backup spot on the 2010 Canadian World Junior team before leaving for the AHL in 2011. Since then, Jones has won a Stanley Cup and helped the Sharks make their way to their first cup final in franchise history.
Forwards: Boris Protsenko, Brady Brassart, Brandon Kozun, Cody Sylvester, Jake Virtanen, Kris Beech, Mark Kastelic, Ryan White,
Defenseman: Jake Bean, Karl Alzner, Kenton Smith, Michael Stone, Paul Postma
Goaltenders: Chris Driedger, Justin Pogge