His voice is the soundtrack to thousands of Medicine Hat Tigers hockey memories.
“All the people who listened to Bob Ridley on the radio…if they weren’t actually at the game, they could close their eyes and know the exact game, because he called it flawless,” said said Hockey Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald on Wednesday.
After 52 years as a broadcaster with the Western Hockey League team that included five WHL championships and two Memorial Cup titles, Bob Ridley – better known as “Rids” – takes his retirement.
Ridley and the Tigers announced his retirement on Tuesday.
“Nobody could have done it better. Nobody could have done it longer,” said McDonald, a Tigers forward from 1971-73.
“I dare say I don’t think anyone will surpass that record, doing it for 52 years.”
McDonald and Ridley crossed paths early in their hockey careers. Ridley started with the Tigers in 1970. McDonald joined the team a year later.
Medicine Hat Tigers announce retirement of legendary hockey broadcaster Bob Ridley
McDonald left Medicine Hat to begin an illustrious NHL career while Ridley stayed on and left his mark on the hockey world, not only hosting games, but acting as a bus driver and mentor for players.
“He had a way of being able to cheer you up when things were maybe not going so well,” McDonald said.
“He was asking to do an interview, and just by talking to him he found a way to build that confidence and get you back on the road.”
“If you were going through a rough patch, he was always hanging around the bus and was there if you wanted to talk,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins, who has also coached the team since 2002. 2010 .
“In the past, players would sit near the driver’s seat,” recalls Desjardins. “In the middle of the night, (if they) couldn’t sleep, they would come up and talk to him.”
Ridley’s generosity and guidance was not limited to that of the Tigers organization. Fellow WHL broadcaster Dustin Forbes drew on Ridley’s experience throughout his own career.
“He was a great tutor and a great friend,” said Forbes, who plays play-by-play for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“Bob is a Hall of Fame broadcaster in my mind, and the biggest thing I’ve found is that he’s also a Hall of Fame person.”
“It’s the people you meet and associate with and become really good friends with, that’s definitely been the highlight of my career,” Ridley said.
Ridley’s work ethic also stands out from her peers.
On Wednesday, he recalled how he ended up playing for the Tigers and carving out a career in local radio and television while also being responsible for driving the team bus for more than four decades.
“They were looking for a bus driver in 1973, and they kind of thought, ‘Well, you have to come anyway, so would you like to drive the bus? “, Ridley said.
“I said, ‘I’ll try,’ and it turned out to be a career that spanned 47 years.”
“To me, the most amazing part is not that he had the longevity he had, the success he had, but how hard working he was,” Forbes said.
“Making the games, driving the bus, which I can’t even imagine because after a game the last thing I want to worry about is driving, let alone being responsible for 28 other people.”
Ridley is retiring after calling 4,022 regular season and playoff games for the Tigers, while winning several awards, including the 2006 WHL Distinguished Service Award and induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Alberta in 2011.
He missed just one game in his first 51 seasons with the team to call the National Women’s Curling Championship in 1972. Last season, Ridley missed all but one game when he suffered cancer treatments.
“I just couldn’t see myself missing a game, because it was my job and something I wanted to do,” Ridley said.
This year, the Tigers unveiled a banner honoring Ridley that hung at Co-op Place, the hockey club’s arena.
As Ridley walks away from the broadcast booth, he said he looks forward to spending more time with his family and taking long rides on his beloved motorbike.
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