After all these years Curt Ridley still gets fan mail.
Well, that isn’t actually accurate. The mail is partly to do with Ridley, the above Canucks/Rangers/Maple Leafs goalie. It’s mostly to do with the affectation he wore with the Canucks that has affected a abiding abode in the game’s lore.
Ridley, now 68, played for 11 teams in 11 able seasons, but never accustomed himself as a No. 1 goalie in the NHL. His bigger moment came in an exhibition bold in 1978 when, as a Canuck, he shut out a touring Moscow Spartak ancillary 2-0 at the Pacific Coliseum.
Either that or the time he absent allotment of his ear in Providence.
But that affectation — eerily able beyond hockey sticks set adjoin a dejected background, aggressive by the Canucks’ aboriginal logo — has backward with people. True, it didn’t accommodate a lot of aegis but, like a lot of the masks from that era, it’s become one of the game’s added memorable images.
“I get asked for four or bristles autographs a week,” Ridley says from his Dallas home. “They accelerate a self-addressed envelope and they appear from all over. I adore accomplishing it. It’s acceptable for my ego.
“I’ve had annihilation but adulation over the years. I’d say they bethink the affectation added than me.”
Even if they should bethink the man abaft the mask.
This allotment is the aboriginal instalment in a alternation in which we’ll analyze some of the added arresting characters in Canucks history. They ability not accept been the team’s bigger stars or best admired abstracts but they accept a adventure to tell, a adventure that’s been blocked over time but still echoes in the team’s history.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Curt Ridley makes a save on a attempt by Montreal Canadiens advanced Doug Risebrough during an NHL bold in Vancouver on Feb. 2, 1978.
For Ridley, the adventure starts with the mask.
A Manitoba kid, he aboriginal came into bulge arena with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers in the 1970-71 season. Ridley would be alleged up for bristles amateur with the Brandon Wheat Kings backward in the WHL division but, while with the Terriers, he recorded a again exceptional .922 save percentage.
Apparently his achievement registered with the aloof community. That summer, the Boston Bruins alleged him in the additional round, 28th overall, authoritative him one of the aboriginal players to be drafted anon from a Tier 2 league.
After a brace years in the Bruins’ arrangement he was acquired by the Rangers, area he played a scattering of amateur and confused on to the Atlanta Flames afore the Canucks acquired him for, delay for it, a first-round pick, eighth overall, in the 1976 draft.
Ridley would breach the afterward division amid Tulsa, area he played for Orland Kurtenbach, and the Canucks afore affective to Vancouver full-time in 1976-77 with Kurtenbach. He spent three added seasons with the Canucks afore he was traded to Toronto, backward afterwards the 1981-82 season.
That, at least, is the aback of his hockey card. But there are a brace of avenues account exploring in Ridley’s career.
For starters, he came up at a time aback goalies were as disposable as Kleenex. There was the odd brilliant — Tony Esposito in Chicago, Ken Dryden in Montreal — who begin a abiding home. But, for the best part, teams afflicted goalies added generally than some bodies change their socks.
The Canucks, for example, went through eight goalies in Ridley’s four years in the organization: Gary Smith, Ken Lockett, Cesare Maniago, Bruce Bullock, Murray Bannerman, Glen Hanlon, Gary Bromley and Ridley. That was additionally the norm, not the exception, for the time.
“The bold was changing,” says John Garrett, who played for four WHA teams in those years and two added in the NHL afore abutting the Canucks in 1982-83. “It was aperture up. The (goalie’s) accessories wasn’t great. There was no apprenticeship and the shooters were accepting better. We were expendable, for sure.”
Part of the reason, as Garrett suggests, is goalies were consistently accepting aching because the accessories of the day offered the bald minimum in protection. The masks, for the best part, were form-fitting and fabricated of Fiberglas.
“When you got hit with the puck, it was like actuality punched in the face,” says Garrett.
Ridley can relate. While in Providence, he took a attempt off the affectation which sheared off allotment of his ear. Trainers retrieved the apart bit, again arranged the goalie off to the emergency allowance in his equipment. There the accessory physician took banal of the situation, again alleged his acceptance in to watch him reattach Ridley’s ear.
“He said he’d never apparent that before,” Ridley says. “I assumption I’m acclaimed in medical circles.”
The aegis afforded the chest and arms, meanwhile, wasn’t abundant better.
“It was actually nothing,” says Hanlon. “No admiration we were consistently continuing up. We were aggravating to assure ourselves.”
Ridley still goes to Dallas Stars amateur area he watches Ben Bishop, the Stars’ 6-foot-7 goalie.
Curt Ridley’s best goalie mask. The above Vancouver Canuck netminder still gets fan mail about his air-conditioned look. hockeymasks.com
“I absolutely ambition I had their equipment, for sure,” he says. “You attending at the admeasurement of Bishop and the pads and accessories on him. Of advance he can stop the puck.”
Ridley, as it happens, had one affectation throughout his career. While added goalies would agreement with altered forms, his was the moulded, Fiberglas archetypal favoured by best of his colleagues in that era. It aloof happened to appear with a analgesic acrylic job.
The artisan in Ridley’s case was Greg Harrison, the man amenable for best of the constant masks from that period. You ability not bethink some of the goalies but those masks — Gilles Gratton’s lion, Gary Simmons’ cobra, Ridley’s X — alive on.
“Those old masks are so cool,” says Hanlon.
Just ambition there was a air-conditioned backstory to go with Ridley’s.
“Greg did the acrylic job and I absolutely admired it,” he says. “I like the logo and the colours but I wasn’t aggravating to accelerate a message.”
The affectation would accompany Ridley to Toronto area it was promptly corrective white to bout the Leafs’ colours. He still has that affectation and is cerebration about abating it to its above glory.
Harrison additionally did Garrett’s masks, including one from the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints which is its own affectionate of cool. Garrett had that affectation for best of his career and said it was repainted eight times as he afflicted teams.
He was traded from the Nordiques to the Canucks on a Thursday, beatific his affectation to Harrison on Friday and played with a new acrylic job on Saturday.
In 1988, Garrett was in Calgary for the Olympics aback he saw an art exhibition of goalie masks that had a cardinal of Harrison’s iconic designs. He still has the affiche from that show.
“It reminds me of a lot of things,” Garrett says.
It’s a agnate adventure with Ridley. As he recalls his career, he has agitation putting dates and teams calm but he has no botheration canonizing the men he played with, the men whose lives intersected with his own all those years ago.
He played abaft Eddie Giacomin and Gilles Villemure in New York. Kurtenbach and Maniago had a huge access in his career. He played for Punch Imlach in Toronto.
“I never had a botheration with anyone,” he says.
“The guys really, absolutely admired him,” says Hanlon. “He was a throwback, a competitor, and he was a survivor. He was a accomplished guy.”
We aloof didn’t see it abaft the mask.
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