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Calgary Hitmen
Calgary Hitmen logo.png
City Calgary, Alberta
League Western Hockey League
Conference Eastern
Division Central
Founded 1994 (1994)
Home arena Scotiabank Saddledome
Colors Red, brown, black, white
Owner(s) Calgary Sports and Entertainment
General manager Mike Moore
Head coach Mark French
Captain Kenton Helgesen
Championships 1999, 2010 WHL Champions

Calgary Hitmen circa 2004-2005

The Calgary Hitmen are a junior ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL). They play their home games at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Hitmen name is derived from Calgary-born wrestler, and original part owner, Bret "the Hitman" Hart. The Hitmen's original jerseys were a distinctive mix of pink, black and grey, also taken from Hart's ring attire.

The Hitmen are the third WHL team to represent Calgary, preceded by the Centennials and Wranglers. In 1999, the Hitmen became the first Calgary team to win the President's Cup as league champions, and the first to represent Calgary in the Memorial Cup since the Calgary Canadians won the national junior title in 1926.


Calgary had been without a WHL team since 1987, when the Calgary Wranglers moved south to become the Lethbridge Hurricanes, as the juniors could not compete against the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League. Eighteen investors, however, convinced the WHL to grant the city of Calgary an expansion franchise for the 1995-96 WHL season. In addition to Hart, the ownership group included NHL stars Theo Fleury and Joe Sakic.[1] Though initially nervous of competing with the Hitmen for hockey fan's dollars, the Flames chose to purchase the Hitmen in 1997, and have since built the team into one of the premier junior hockey teams in Canada.

Controversial beginnings

The Hitmen immediately generated controversy when the team logo was unveiled. While the "Jason Voorhees" style logo was instantly popular with many fans, some in the local media, as well as the league office found the look too violent, and the Hitmen were forced to use an alternate "starburst" logo in their inaugural season. The WHL relented after one year, allowing the original logo to return in 1996.[2]

Orignall hitmen logo.png

The Hitmen were caught up in a second controversy in their second season as general manager and head coach Graham James was forced to resign partway through the 1996-97 season after being charged with sexually assaulting two of his players while coaching the Swift Current Broncos. James was convicted in January 1997.[3]

The team on the ice did not fare much better than it did off of it. The Hitmen won only 33 games in their first two seasons, finishing safely out of playoff contention both years.

WHL championship

After two challenging seasons, the Hitmen quickly rose to prominence. In 1997-98, the Hitmen won 40 games and the Central Division. Entering the playoffs for the first time, the Hitmen cruised past the Saskatoon Blades, then upset the Swift Current Broncos before falling in the Eastern Conference final to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Head coach Dean Clark, brought in to replace James, won the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as WHL coach of the year for his efforts. He was also named the CHL coach of the year.[4]

Calgary improved to 51 wins in 1998-99, narrowly edging the Kamloops Blazers for the regular season title. Led by Brad Moran, Pavel Brendl and goaltender Alexandre Fomitchev, the Hitmen lost just five games in the playoffs, capturing their first President's Cup at home before a WHL playoff record crowd of 17,139.[5]

In the 1999 Memorial Cup, the Hitmen finished atop the round robin standings earning a berth straight into the final. Calgary faced the host Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League in the championship game in an exciting back-and-forth affair. The Hitmen fell just short however, losing 7-6 in overtime.[6]

In 1999-00, the Hitmen set franchise records for wins (58) and points (120) while capturing their second straight regular season title. After sweeping their first two playoff series, the Hitmen were stunned by the eventual WHL champion Kootenay Ice.

Recent years

In the past several seasons, the Hitmen have settled in as a middle of the road team on the ice. Despite this, the team has become a perennial attendance leader, finishing atop the WHL standings each of the past four years. In 2004-05, the Flames heavily marketed the Hitmen in the wake of the 2004-05 NHL lockout. As a result, the Hitmen averaged 10,062 fans, the first junior team to average 10,000, and the highest average of any junior or professional team in North America. Their season total of 362,227 set WHL and CHL records.[7]

While the team has not been extremely successful in recent years, the Hitmen have developed several players who have gone onto success in the NHL and at major international tournaments. Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd were both members of the dominating Canadian team that won the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[8] Justin Pogge emerged as the unlikely hero for team Canada as they defended their gold medal at the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.[9] Pogge would also be named the WHL and CHL goaltender of the year in 2005-06.[10]

Ladd also became the first Hitmen alumnus to win the Stanley Cup, which he did with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.[11] Getzlaf won the cup the following season with the Anaheim Ducks, leading the team in scoring with seven goals and ten assists in twenty-one games.

Season-by-season record

Season GP W L T OL GF GA Pts Finish Playoffs
1995–96 72 18 51 3 222 359 39 5th Central Did not qualify
1996–97 72 15 53 4 199 360 34 4th Central Did not qualify
1997–98 72 40 28 4 265 232 84 1st Central Lost Eastern Conference final
1998–99 72 51 13 8 319 187 110 1st Central Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup final
1999–2000 72 58 10 2 2 313 182 120 1st Central Lost Eastern Conference final
2000–01 72 37 27 5 3 284 250 82 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference semi-final
2001–02 72 33 33 5 1 271 281 72 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2002–03 72 27 36 7 2 240 260 63 4th Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2003–04 72 34 24 8 6 220 187 82 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2004–05 72 34 23 9 6 200 183 83 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference semi-final
Season GP W L OTL SOL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
2005–06 72 47 18 3 4 195 155 101 2nd Central Lost Eastern Conference semi-final
2006–07 72 39 26 3 4 251 205 85 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference final
2007–08 72 47 20 1 4 259 166 99 1st Central Lost Eastern Conference final
2008–09 72 59 9 3 1 330 159 122 1st Central Lost final
2009–10 72 52 17 1 2 269 177 107 1st Central Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup semifinal
2010–11 72 20 47 3 2 171 271 45 6th Central Out of playoffs
2011–12 72 44 27 2 1 273 221 91 2nd Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2012–13 72 46 21 1 4 266 204 97 2nd Central Lost Eastern Conference final
2013–14 72 48 17 3 4 287 207 103 2nd Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2014–15 72 45 22 1 4 289 203 95 1st Central Lost Eastern Conference final
2015–16 72 42 26 2 2 246 219 88 3rd Central Lost Eastern Conference quarter-final
2016–17 72 30 32 8 2 215 282 70 4th Central Lost Conference quarter-final
2017–18 72 24 37 9 2 226 276 59 4th Central Did not qualify
2018–19 68 36 26 5 1 255 240 78 3rd Central Lost Conference semi-final
2019–20 64 35 24 4 1 219 201 75 3rd Central Playoffs cancelled
2020-21 21 10 8 3 0 72 79 23 3rd Central Playoffs cancelled

NHL Alumni

Ryan Getzlaf played four seasons with the Hitmen between 2001 and 2005.|alt=Upper body of a hockey player staring intently into the distance. He is in a white jersey with black, red and gold trim, with the word "DUCKS" scrawled across the chest.]] Thirty-eight players have been selected from the Hitmen roster at the National Hockey League's entry drafts.[12] Of those, nine players were selected in the first round. The highest drafted players in club history were Pavel Brendl (1999) and Andrew Ladd (2004). Both players were selected fourth overall.[12]

Forty-one former Hitmen players have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.[13] The first was Ryan Bast, who played two games with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1998–99.[14] Andrew Ladd has gone on to win two Stanley Cup championships since graduating: with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.[15] His former Hitmen teammate, Ryan Getzlaf won the Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.[16]

Retired numbers

Head coaches

Dean Clark has thus far been the most successful coach for the Calgary Hitmen. He led the team between 1996 and 2001, and in that time won more WHL games than any other coach. He was named coach of the year in both the WHL and CHL in 1998. Clark led the Hitmen to three division titles, two regular season titles, one league championship, and coached the Hitmen to their first Memorial Cup final. Kelly Kisio is the team's former head coach from the 2004–05 season to the end of the 2007–08 season, a role he shared with Dean Evason in his first year at the helm of the Hitmen. Kisio stepped down as coach in 2008, naming former assistant Dave Lowry, as head coach for the 2008–09 season. Lowry was promoted to an assistant with the Calgary Flames after leading the Hitmen to a 122-point season in his rookie year. He was replaced by Mike Williamson, who led the team to a WHL championship in 2010 but left the team in 2014. The current head coach is Mark French.

# Name Dates Notes
1 Graham James 1995–96 Resigned prior to 1996–97 season
2 Jim Currie 1996 Interim head coach
3 Dean Clark 199601 1998 WHL, CHL Coach of the Year
4 Richard Kromm 200104
5 Dean Evason 2004–05 Co-coach with Kelly Kisio
6 Kelly Kisio 20042008
7 Dave Lowry 2008–09
8 Mike Williamson 200914
9 Mark French 2014–present

Club records

Team records held by the Hitmen and players:




  • Most wins: 59, 2008-09
  • Most points: 122, 2008-09
  • Most goals for: 330, 2008-09
  • Fewest goals against: 155, 2005-06


Awards and honours

The Calgary Hitmen have captured numerous awards during the franchise's tenure. Hitmen players have been named the WHL's most outstanding player four times. Defenceman Karl Alzner won the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy in 2007–08, also named the defenceman of the year, and Brett Sonne won the trophy in 2008–09. Goaltender Martin Jones captured numerous awards in Calgary's championship season of 2009–10, including being named the top goaltender of the Memorial Cup, and Brandon Kozun led the entire Canadian Hockey League in scoring.

As a whole, the Hitmen have won the Central Division six times, and four times have been the regular season champions. Brad Moran, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, had his number 20 retired in 2005, the only player to be so honoured. Following the lead of the Calgary Flames, the team introduced a new program in 2015 to honour former players. Called "Forever a Hitmen", the team named Ryan Getzlaf the first inductee.

Ed Chynoweth Cup
Western Hockey League champions

Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Regular season champions

Central Division titles

Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
Player of the year

Bob Clarke Trophy
Top scorer

Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy
Scholastic player of the year

Brad Hornung Trophy
Most sportsmanlike player

Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
Defenceman of the year

CHL Defenceman of the Year

Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
Rookie of the year

CHL Top Draft Prospect Award

Del Wilson Trophy
Goaltender of the year

CHL Goaltender of the Year

Hap Emms Memorial Trophy
Top goaltender at the Memorial Cup

Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
Coach of the year

Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award
CHL coach of the year

Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
Executive of the year

Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
Humanitarian of the year

WHL Playoff MVP

WHL Plus-Minus Award
Top plus-minus

St. Clair Group Trophy
Top marketing/public relations department

See also


  1., "Inside the Club", Accessed October 16
  2. Hart, Bret, Bret Hart's Calgary Sun column for April 30,2004 reproduced at Accessed October 14, 2006
  3. Deacon, James, Hockey Coach Guilty of Sexual Assault, MacLean's January 13, 1997. Reproduced on Accessed October 14, 2006
  4. 2005-06 WHL guide, WHL Awards, pgs. 167-170
  5. WHL playoff records, Accessed October 14, 2006
  6. Lajoie, Roger, MasterCard Memorial Cup Priceless Moment No. 9 - Ottawa scores in overtime to win Memorial Cup at home, Accessed October 16, 2006
  7. WHL season records Accessed October 14, 2006
  8. 2005 WJHC roster, Accessed October 16, 2006
  9. 2006 WJHC roster, Accessed October 16, 2006
  10. Del Wilson Trophy winners, Accessed October 16, 2006
  11. Shea, Kevin HHOF Stanley Cup journal - Andrew Ladd, Accessed October 16, 2006
  12. 12.0 12.1 in Flett, Cory and Watts, Jessie: 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League, 42. 
  13. Fisher, Scott. "Hitmen grads puttin' on good Show", Calgary Sun, 2012-03-15. Retrieved on 2012-03-19. 
  14. Ryan Bast player profile. The Internet Hockey Database. Retrieved on 2008-02-23.
  15. Andrew Ladd player profile. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2011-01-11.
  16. Ryan Getzlaf player profile. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved on 2011-01-11.

External links

Western Hockey League
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