Welcome back to my silly list, everyone! Today, we look at who I’ve slotted into the 18 spot on my top 19 Seattle players. First, to everyone reading this list, I must make one thing abundantly clear. I like fighting in hockey. I always have, I always will, and there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change my mind on this subject. As the years have moved forward and the game has evolved, the knuckle -dragging brute and protector role has diminished. It’s gotten to the point where teams can no longer afford to sacrifice a roster spot on someone who can’t produce offensively, at least in some capacity, and that is okay, even for Neanderthals like myself. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate one of the last of a dying breed and a fan favorite for the T-birds.
Coming in at the 18 position is tough guy, take on all comers, legitimate heavyweight, Zack Fitzgerald. “Fitz” was taken in the fourth round of the 2001 Bantam draft at 63rd overall. Fitzgerald, a big rugged defenseman from Twin Harbors, Minnesota began his WHL career in the 2001-2002. He played 63 games to the toon of seven total points (3 goals, 7 assists) but amassed a staggering 214 penalty minutes. Fitzgerald fought 13 times during the 01-02 regular season and added one more during that year’s playoffs. His legend continued to grow over the next three years in a Seattle Thunderbirds sweater.
Over the next three season in Seattle, Fitzgerald earned a reputation as one of the heavyweights in the Western Hockey League. His second full season in the league saw him fight a total of 16 times during the regular season and add yet another during the post-season.
The final two years, Fitzgerald was named an alternate captain for the club and his role changed, to a shutdown d-man and some moderate offensive production. His best season also was his last. He managed to pitch in seven goals and 18 assists for 25 points, he also finished the season with the most penalty minutes in his career, at 244 PIM.
Over his career, Fitz played a total of 248 games, score 22 goals, 54 assists for a total of 76 points. More impressively, Fitzgerald fought a total of 50 times and compile an outrageous 929 total PIM (regular season and playoffs).
Fitzgerald was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round, number 88 overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft and played only a single NHL game for the Vancouver Canucks. He spent most of his professional career in the AHL where he continued to do what he always did best. Over the last five years, Fitzgerald has found success in the Elite Ice Hockey League located in Great Britain.
His four-year career with Seattle saw him battle night in and night out, to the delight of crazed Seattle fans. His role with the team will not be soon forgotten as he was one of the last true enforcers the team has seen. Cheers and thanks to you, Mr. Fitzgerald, and may your lefts and rights continue to strike fear into the hearts of your opponents. For fans of the rough stuff, may I highly recommend you go check out some of his bouts at www.hockeyfights.com. You won’t be disappointed.