Long-time Tigers’ mic man, bus driver brings down curtain . . . Two ex-WHLers in coaching news

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 . . .

ridley
Bob Ridley was back in the broadcast booth for the final game of the Medicine Hat Tigers’ 2021-22 season. It turns out that also was the final game of Ridley’s play-by-play career as he announced his retirement on Tuesday. (Photo: Scott Roblin/CHAT-TV)


Club


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.



Ex


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.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


CBrown

It was big year for BC Transplant . . . One year after getting kidney, Gillis advocates for dialysis patients . . . Lots of numbers on organ donation

Yes, 2020 was a big year for organ transplants in B.C.

Figures compiled and released by BC Transplant show that there were a record 55 lung transplants. As well, 33 people, including three children, underwent heart transplants.

When it came to livers, a record set in 2017 was matched with 80 transplants — 78 singles and two in combination with kidneys.

When it came to kidneys, there were 280 transplants, with 81 of those involving living donors.

“The success of organ transplant is a transformative feat of expertise, coordination and caring through the province, in every health authority,” Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said in a statement.”A total of 451 people in BC received a life-saving transplant in 2020. Today, there are 5,491 British Columbians alive thanks to the incredible generosity of organ donors.”

From a BC Transplant news release: “In 2020, 110 people donated organs after death, with their families making a selfless decision in a moment of grief to gift life to others. 81 living donors donated a kidney in 2020.”

As a new year began, more than 1.5 million people had registered a decision with the province’s Organ Donor Registry. At the same time, there were 737 people awaiting organ transplants.

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One of those who received a kidney from a living donor is Stephen Gillis of Vancouver. In fact, Thursday was the first anniversary of the transplant that also involved donor Michael Teigen. . . . On Thursday, Gillis and Teigen got together at a Vancouver track and ran five km to celebrate the good times. . . . These days, Gillis is asking the B.C. government to prioritize dialysis patients for vaccinations against COVID-19. Gillis points out that these people “are very, very vulnerable,” what with having compromised immune systems and having to visit hospitals three or four times a week to under dialysis. . . . There’s more on Gillis and Teigen right here. . . . I would suggest that the B.C. government also should be prioritizing transplant patients such as Gillis. These people all take anti-rejection drugs that suppress their immune systems so that the new organs won’t be rejected. It should be a matter of utmost importance that they, too, be among the earliest to be vaccinated.


In a story written for the National Post, Emma Jones details the story of Marit McKenzie of Calgary, who took an interest in organ donation and later got her mother to co-sign an organ donor card. In 2013, Marit died suddenly and heart was donated to Tanner Fitzpatrick, 12, of Newfoundland. . . . “Organ donation continues to be a difficult decision for Canadians,” Jones writes, “where 90 per cent of the population support organ donation, yet only 23 per cent register as donors, reports Canadian Blood Services. The low number of donors can translate into deadly consequences for the more than 4,500 people waiting for an organ donation — 260 of whom will die each year, according to The Organ Project, a not-for-profit founded by Eugene Melnyk, the owner and chairman of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club. That’s about five deaths each week, or one death every 30 hours.” . . . Of those waiting for an organ, 76 per cent need a kidney, with 10 per cent awaiting a liver, six per cent lungs and four per cent a heart. . . . According to The Organ Project, the average kidney patient will wait four years for a new organ. . . . “Marit’s heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys were successfully transplanted in four separate surgeries, according to the David Foster Foundation,” Jones writes. “Her donated corneas gave two more patients sight, while bone tissue and tendons were preserved for future reconstructive surgeries.” . . . More from Jones: “The work of researchers, doctors and volunteers, as well as the selfless acts of living and deceased donors, is making a difference. In 2019, more than 3,000 transplants were performed from 1,434 donors, an increase from approximately 2,500 transplants from 1,212 donors in 2015, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The waiting list also appears to be shrinking, down to 4,527 in 2019 from 4,712 in 2015.” . . . Her complete story is right here.






If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Time is everything. This is why we promise registering as an organ donor should only #TakeTwoMinutes. That’s faster than microwave popcorn! #Register2Give

Scattershooting in the aftermath of tragedy

Scattershooting

Logan Boulet, a defenceman from Lethbridge who turned 21 on March 2, was among the players who died on Friday in the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos.

Boulet had signed his organ donor card upon turning 21, and his organs will benefit others. He was kept on life support into Saturday in order to allow that to happen.

Liam Nixon of Global Lethbridge tweeted a statement from Logan’s father, Toby, on Saturday evening. Part of that statement: “Despite other media reports today, Logan’s strong heart continues to beat this evening. The final harvesting of Logan’s organs will take place overnight, now that he has positive matches for all organs donated.”

Earlier, Nixon had reported that Logan “is giving new hope to at least six different people.”

Neil Langevin, a family friend of the Boulets, was Logan’s godfather. Langevin tweeted that a surgical team from the U of Alberta hospital would travel to Saskatoon “for organ transplant procedures. There have been matches made for all vital organs, including a patient set to receive his heart and lungs. . . . The family will stay with Logan until the surgery begins at around 2 a.m.”

Langevin added: “Following the organ surgery, his other organs will be donated to science as he requested. These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others, truly taught and fostered by Toby and Bernie.”

As someone whose wife was did peritoneal dialysis for four years before being the beneficiary of a kidney transplant, I will admit there were tears when I read all of this news. There really aren’t words at a time like this, but a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ — along with the deepest condolences — to Logan’s family and friends.



Glen Doerksen was driving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus at the time of the accident. He didn’t survive the crash. He also drove for the Kinistino Tigers of the Wheatland Senior Hockey League. . . . Dave Deibert of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Doerksen right here.


Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Bob Wilkie were players with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos and survived the bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, that claimed the lives of four teammates. Kennedy, Soberlak and Wilkie are scheduled to arrive in Humboldt today (Sunday) and will provide help and support where they can.


On Saturday evening, I received an email from a relative of one of the injured players. “His Mother is there and having mixed emotions with her son surviving with other Mothers losing sons,” read part of the email. . . . Yes, survivor’s guilt is something with which people will have to deal, which is among the many reasons that counsellors are being made available.



One of the things we need to keep in mind at a time like this is that because of social media, spring/summer hockey and travelling teams, players throughout hockey are often more than acquainted with so many more players than players of yesteryear. Thus, a tragedy of this nature will have a far greater and more personal impact on more players than even the accident involving the Swift Current Broncos.



While general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant coach Mark Cross were among the fatalities, athletic therapist Dayna Brons survived and is recovering from undisclosed injuries in hospital. From Lake Lenore, Sask., she is a graduate (kinesiology and health studies) of the U of Regina. Brons is in her second season with the Broncos.


Darcy Haugan, 41, leaves behind his wife, Christine, and two sons, Carson and Jackson. Christine works for the Broncos as their office manager.


If you click right here, you will find a person-by-person look at many of those killed or injured in the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus.


Devin Cannon and his wife, Rene, provided a billet home for three of the Humboldt Broncos players — D Xavier Labelle, 18, from Saskatoon; F Logan Hunter, from St. Albert, Alta.; and D Adam Herold, who was to turn 17 on Thursday. Herold spent this season as the captain of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. When their season ended, he joined the Broncos. . . . Labelle, Hunter and Herold all died in the crash.


F Evan Thomas, 18, also died in the accident. From Saskatoon, his father, Scott, played for the Moose Jaw Warriors (1988-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-91) and now is involved in hockey as the president of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Evan was in his first season with the Broncos. . . . F Jaxon Joseph, 20, was the son of Chris Joseph, a defenceman who played with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1985-88) before going on to a pro career that included 510 NHL games. . . . Jaxon played 21 games with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles in 2015-16, before joining the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs where he spent last season. He played 16 games with the Mustangs this season before being acquired by the Broncos.


Another email that I received on Saturday evening pointed out that “in my opinion, buses are a terrific mode of transport. I have been riding in/driving a bus for close to 40 years and in that time there are only a couple of times that were scary. Buses, inherently, with their long wheel base are very stable in almost all conditions — fog and black ice being the exceptions. Kudos to all the drivers out there who have done such an outstanding job all these years.” (The afore-mentioned email didn’t come from Bob Ridley.)

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