Hockey world reacts to legendary broadcaster Bob Ridley’s retirement

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Hockey world reacts to legendary broadcaster Bob Ridley’s retirement
WATCH ABOVE: A Western Hockey League broadcasting legend is hanging up his headset. Bob Ridley, the longtime voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, is retiring after more than five decades, leaving behind a lasting imprint on the team and the league. Erik Bay has more. – Aug 17, 2022

His voice is the soundtrack to thousands of Medicine Hat Tigers’ hockey memories.

“All the people that listened to Bob Ridley on the radio… if they weren’t actually at the game, they could close their eyes and know the exact play, because he called it flawless,” Hockey Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald said 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 know as “Rids” — is heading into retirement.

Ridley and the Tigers announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“No one could have done it better. No one could have done it longer,” said McDonald, a Tigers forward from 1971 to 1973.

“I dare to say I don’t think anyone will top that record, doing it for 52 years.”

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McDonald and Ridley crossed paths at the beginning of their hockey careers. Ridley started with the Tigers in 1970. McDonald joined the team a year later.

Read more: Medicine Hat Tigers announce retirement of legendary hockey broadcaster Bob Ridley

McDonald left Medicine Hat to start an illustrious NHL career while Ridley stayed and left his mark on the hockey world, not only calling games, but acting as a bus driver and mentor to the players.

“He had a way of being able to boost you up when things may not have been going that well,” McDonald said.

“He’d ask to do an interview, and just with talking to him, he found a way to boost that confidence and get you back on the road again.”

After a career spanning 52 years and 4,022 games, Medicine Hat Tigers broadcaster Bob Ridley is retiring. Courtesy: WHL

“If you were going through a tough time, he’d always just kind of hang around the bus and be there if you wanted to talk,” said Tigers head coach and general manager Willie Desjardins, who also previously led the team from 2002 too 2010.

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“In the olden days, players would come up and sit by the driver’s seat,” Desjardins recalled. “In the middle of the night, (if) they couldn’t sleep, they’d come up and talk to him.”

Ridley’s generosity and advice wasn’t limited to those in the Tigers organization. Fellow WHL broadcaster Dustin Forbes has leaned on Ridley’s experience throughout his own career.

“He was a great tutor and a great friend,” said Forbes, who does play-by-play for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

“Bob is a Hall of Fame broadcaster in my mind, and the most important thing I’ve found is he’s a Hall of Fame person too.”

“It’s the people that you meet and get to associate with and become very good friends, that has definitely been the highlight of my career,” Ridley said.

Ridley’s work ethic also stands out to his peers.

On Wednesday, he recalled how he ended up doing play-by-play for the Tigers and carved out a career in local radio and TV while also being in charge of driving the team bus for more than four decades.

“They were looking for a bus driver way back in 1973, and they kind of thought, ‘Well, you have to come along anyways, so would you like to drive the bus?'” Ridley said.

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“I said, ‘I’ll give it a whirl,’ and it turned out to be a career that lasted 47 years.”

“For me, the most incredible part is not that he had the longevity that he had, the success that he had, but just how hard of a worker he was,” said Forbes.

“Doing the games, driving the bus, which I can’t even fathom because after a game the last thing I want to worry about is driving, let alone being responsible for 28 other people.”

Ridley retires having called 4,022 regular season and playoff games for the Tigers, while earning multiple awards, including the WHL Distinguished Service Award in 2006 and an Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 2011.

He only missed one game through 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 as he underwent treatments for cancer.

“I just couldn’t see myself missing any games, because this was my job and something that I wanted to do,” Ridley said.

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This year, the Tigers unveiled a banner honouring Ridley that hangs at Co-op Place, the hockey club’s arena.

As Ridley steps away from the broadcast booth, he said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family and lots of long rides on his beloved motorcycle.

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