Prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, Bob Ridley had, with one exception, called every single game the Medicine Hat Tigers had played since entering the WHL for the 1970-71 season.
Darren Steinke, a former Medicine Hat News sports writer, is the go-to guy when it comes to stats involving Ridley.
“Over the course of his career,” Steinke tweeted on Tuesday, “Bob Ridley has called 4,022 games as the play-by-play voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers — 3,590 regular-season games, one standings tiebreaker game, 411 games in the WHL playoffs and 20 contests in the Memorial Cup tournament.”
Ridley, 78, who has announced his retirement, missed almost all of last season as he underwent cancer treatment. But he was there in Co-op Place’s broadcast booth — yes, it’s named after him, as it should be — for the Tigers’ last game of a playoff-less season on April 15 and, as it turns out, that was to be Ridley’s final appearance as the club’s play-by-play voice.
Let’s not forget, too, that he also drove the bus during the vast majority of his seasons calling Tigers’ games. Oh, and he also did play-by-play for baseball’s Medicine Hat Blue Jays for about eight seasons when they were in the Pioneer League. And, yes, he drove their bus, too.
By now the fact that he missed one Tigers game has become the stuff of legend. It was in the spring of 1972 and Ridley’s boss sent him to Saskatoon to cover the Canadian women’s curling championship. It seems the boss’s wife was on the Alberta rink.
As the schedule would have it, the Tigers only played one game that week. (Trivia answer: Larry Plante, who was Ridley’s analyst for many seasons, called the play for that one game. Plante died on Aug. 20, 2019.)
But, sheesh, what if Ridley had fallen in love with curling and had abandoned hockey back in the day?
All the best in retirement, Bob. Here’s hoping it’s kind to you.
Hello, Hockey Hall of Fame . . .
COVID-19 SAYS HELLO . . . AGAIN: With Seattle having dealt Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, the opportunity is there for someone to land the starting quarterback’s job with the Seahawks. Well, Drew Lock was to have started Thursday against the visiting Chicago Bears, but COVID-19 chose to have a say in things. Yes, Lock has tested positive so he won’t be playing. Instead, the start will go to Geno Smith. . . . Simon Fraser U, which is headquartered in Burnaby, B.C., but plays football in the NCAA Division II, has moved four of its home games to Blaine, Wash. It would seem that four of its American opponents can’t guarantee all in the travelling parties will be vaccinated, thus they won’t be allowed to cross the border. Of course, the same restriction holds true going into the U.S., so the SFU team must be totally vaccinated.
THE COACHING GAME:
Joel Martin, a former WHL goaltender, is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. He also becomes the Wings’ director of hockey operations. Martin, 39, takes over from Nick Bootland, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . Martin, the second Black head coach working in pro hockey today, spent the past three seasons as an assistant under Bootland with the Wings. The other Black head coach is Jason Payne of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. . . . Martin played 126 games over three seasons (2000-03) in the WHL, making stops with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Tri-City Americans, Vancouver Giants and Calgary Hitmen. . . .
Former WHL D Luca Sbisa has joined the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as a player development coach. After retiring in 2021, Sbisa, now 32, had been with the Anaheim Ducks as a development coach. . . . Sbisa, who was born in Italy, played 109 regular-season WHL games over three seasons (2007-10). He played 62 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2007-08 and 18 more in 2008-09. In 2009-10, he was with Lethbridge for 17 games and finished up by playing 12 games with the Portland Winterhawks. He totalled 14 goals and 52 assists. . . . Sbisa is fluent in English, French, German and Italian, something that no doubt will help him in his coaching role.
Ken Wright, who played 41 games in the WHL in 1971-72, died in Vancouver on Aug. 2. He was two weeks past his 70th birthday when cancer took him. Wright, who was from Vancouver, got into seven games with the Vancouver Nats in 1971-72 and 34 more with the Flin Flon Bombers. A defenceman, he had two assists with the Nats, then added five goals and 19 assists with the Bombers. Wright went on to play four seasons in the IHL before retiring. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.
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