Questions? Comments? Stories to share? Memorabilia to sell? Send me an email!

USAGE: If material from this website is quoted or otherwise used as a reference source in a published work in any format, please provide the proper citations/credit. Thanks!

© Jeff Obermeyer 2000-2009

I opted not to go with the season-by-season summary format I used for other Seattle teams. That information is available elsewhere, most notably on the Thunderbirds team website.

So what to do? I figured instead I’d list my take on the best Thunderbird players in the categories below. Note that I am limiting my selections to players I actually saw play – so no one before 1991 is included. I know that Goodall and Nedved were great… I just never saw them play, so it’s hard if not impossible for me to compare them to Marleau. Sorry.

Best Offensive Player

  1. 1.   Patrick Marleau – He scored 83 goals and 199 points over two season with Seattle… when he was 16 and 17 years old! Selected second overall in the NHL entry draft. He was an effortless skater with tremendous speed, and he could both shoot and pass.

  2. 2.  Mark Parrish – He only played one season in Seattle, but it was impressive with 54 goals in 54 games. Deadly backhand shot.

  3. 3.  Chris Herperger – I almost picked Saprykin here, as he has better numbers. However, Herps was a smart player and knew how to turn it up a notch when needed, as evidenced by his 17 career playoff goals, second best all-time. The all-time playoff goal leader for the Thunderbirds is Aaron Gagnon with 18 goals in 45 playoff games. Did I mention Heps got his 17 in only 18 games? Clutch.

Best Defenseman

  1. 1.   Brendan Witt  – Witt won the league’s Top Defenseman honors once, and his 686 penalty minutes in 193 games show that he was tough. He actually averaged MORE penalty minutes per game in the playoffs (137 minutes, 30 games). He was a first round draft pick and has had a successful NHL career.

  2. 2. Greg Kuznik  – Stay at home defenseman. Never anything too flashy, but he seldom got beat. Tough (507 career penalty minutes) and durable (212 games). He probably would have had more PIMs, but by his last season players tended to scatter when he skated towards a scrum after he delivered a couple of early season TKOs.

  3. 3.   Dion Lassu – A short stay in Seattle during his last season in the WHL, but like Kuznik he was smart and always kept the play in front of him.

Best Offensive Defenseman

  1. 1.   Deron Quint – I never saw another Seattle defenseman move the puck as well as Quint. Never. Sure, he got lazy sometimes, acting almost bored; but he could take the puck end-to-end seemingly at will. His 44 goals in 128 games probably gives him the best goals per game ratio of any Seattle blueliner ever.

  2. 2. Thomas Hickey – I wish Hickey had come back for one more year, but he was just too good. During his five-game tryout in 2004-05 when he was ONLY 15-YEARS OLD, he picked up two goals and an assist. His 39 career goals in 262 games aren’t nearly as impressive on paper as those of Quint, but the two played in different eras. Hickey moved the puck well and had a great shot.

  3. 3. Jame Pollack – Pollack had what I believe to be the best shot from the point I’ve seen, and he was very dangerous on the power play. His 36 goals are impressive, and I’d guess that a lot of his 88 assists were rebounds that came from his point shots.

Best Goaltender

  1. 1.   Cody Rudkowsky – He had 34 wins and seven shutouts his last year in the league. And oh, by the way, five of those shutouts came over a nine-game stretch in February. He won the WHL MVP that year. He earned 73 career wins and a 3.32 GAA. Plus he was the first goalie I ever saw get into a legitimate fight when he skated the length of the ice during a line brawl to hook up with Aaron Baker of the Tri-City Americans.

  2. 2. Bryan Bridges – Bridges’ numbers were actually better than Rudkowsky’s, but a lot changed in the five years between the two. Bridges ranks second in team wins (74), had a career 2.27 GAA, and an astounding 20 shutouts – more than double the next highest total. In 2004-05 he was 36-20-2 with a 1.79 GAA and 13 shutouts. Impressive.

  3. 3. Corey Schwab – Corey was my first “favorite” player as a TBirds fan. A solid goaltender with a career 49-22-4 record, he was known as much for his temper and the use of his stick as a weapon to clear the crease as he was for his skills. His winning percentage is the second best for goaltenders with 50 or more decisions.

Best Fighter

  1. 1.   Brett Duncan – No contest. He destroyed everyone who came his way. The lefty put up 526 penalty minutes in just 130 games… plus another 84 minutes in the playoffs for good measure. He and Witt actually used to be paired together – unquestionably the most frightening blueline combo the TBirds ever put on the ice.

  2. 2. Greg Black – Greg Black would fight anyone, anywhere, at any time. I met him once and he showed me his right hand – which was just a swollen mass covered with scar tissue from all the helmets and teeth he punched. He earned 699 career penalty minutes, and his fights were always high-intensity slug-fests.

  3. 3. Paul Ferone – Lots of guys had more impressive totals than Ferone’s 452 minutes in 185 games, but he was truly a surgeon with his fists. He wasn’t that big at maybe 5’11” and 180 pounds, but he had the fastest fists I ever saw and they were always punching straight ahead a full speed.

There’s lots of room for debate with these choices. Oleg Saprykin put up great offensive numbers… Ben Clymer had a great point shot… and certainly Darren McLachlan and Zack FitzGerald could beat you so bad that you’d forget your own name. But those are my pics!

Patrick Marleau

Best Offensive Player

Deron Quint

Best Offensive Defenseman

Brendan Witt

Best Defenseman

Cody Rudkowsky

Best Goaltender

Brett Duncan

Best Fighter

Seattle Thunderbirds