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Remembering Curt Ridley, Beloved Ice Hockey Player Family and Career

Remembering Canadian hockey goalie Curt Ridley (1951-2021) – his distinctive masked look, NHL career with the Rangers, Canucks, and Maple Leafs, and life after hockey in Dallas with his wife and son. The Manitoba kid who rose through junior ranks to play 104 games in the big leagues before quietly walking away in the 1980s.

Quick Info

Age 70 years
Nationality Canadian
Ethnicity Mixed
Zodiac Sign Libra
Relationship Married
Wife Lee Ann Ondich Ridley
Children Erick Ridley
Height Feet: 6’0 ft
Centimeter: 183 cm
Meter: 1.83 m
Hair Color Black
Weight Kilogram: 82 kg
Pound: 180 lbs
Body type Fit
Gender orientation Straight

Curt Ridley passed away at the age of 70

Curt Ridley, who played goalie in the NHL for the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs between 1974-1981, has died at the age of 70.

The news of Ridley’s passing was shared by his wife, Lee Ann Ondich Ridley, and son, Erick Ridley, on social media. In a statement, Lee said “It is with sorrow; Erick and I must announce that Curt Ridley moved on from this world late last night. We are mourning the loss of a husband, father, and friend.” She went on to say he “fought a hard battle” before dying peacefully.

Curt Ridley Obituary
Pic: Curt Ridley Obituary

While his death has elicited an outpouring of tributes online, the exact cause of Ridley’s death has not been made public. Based on his wife’s statement, it appears he had been battling an illness prior to his passing.

Ridley’s death comes just over two years after the October 2019 passing of Lee Ann’s father, Donald J. Ondich. The loss of Curt is especially hard for his surviving family members, including his grieving wife and son.

Curt Ridley’s Family Life with His Wife and Son

Curt Ridley was born on September 24, 1951, in Minnedosa, Manitoba, and raised in nearby Portage la Prairie. As a youth, Ridley became enveloped in hockey, taking to the ice to play goalie for local teams.

Curt Ridley Early Ages
Pic: Curt Ridley in his Early Ages (Image Source: Internet)

Ridley attended high school in Portage la Prairie before studying at Richland Community College. He started out playing junior hockey with the Portage Terriers in the late 1960s. His talent in the net was noticed by scouts.

Ridley was married to Lee Ann Ondich Ridley and they had one son together named Erick. After retiring from his hockey career, Ridley lived with his wife in the Dallas, Texas area where they were regular attendees of Dallas Stars games.

Curt Ridley Family Life with Wife Lee Ann Ondich Ridley and Son Erick Ridley
Pic: Curt Ridley Family Photo, Right his Son Erick Ridley, Middle Curt Ridley and on Left his Wife Lee Ann Ondich Ridley (Image Source: Lee’s Facebook)

Even well after his playing days ended, Ridley maintained a lively presence discussing hockey online. He had nearly 1,500 Facebook friends and often posted reminiscing about his NHL career as well as commentary on contemporary hockey. After the news broke of Ridley’s passing, many of those online friends shared memories and offered condolences.

Curt Ridley’s career

Growing up in rural Manitoba, Curt Ridley started out playing defense but eventually transitioned to goalie as a teen. He honed his skills with the Portage Terriers junior club before getting called up briefly to the major junior ranks in 1971.

Ridley’s talents caught the attention of pro scouts. In 1971, the Boston Bruins selected him in the NHL draft – remarkably as the first player ever drafted directly from Tier II Junior A hockey.

Though drafted by Boston, Ridley never actually played for the Bruins. His NHL career spanned from 1974-1981 with stints on the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. He got into 104 total NHL games but was often relegated to a backup role.

While he didn’t see extensive ice time in the big leagues, Ridley spoke fondly later in life of realizing his dream of playing in the NHL. He particularly recalled his first training camp with Boston legends like Gerry Cheevers.

Though not a star player, Ridley gained renown for the uniquely designed goalie masks he wore, especially the painted Canucks mask featuring the team’s recognizable stick-in-rink logo. His personalized masks were a signature.

Ridley on NHL

Curt Ridley finally got his first real NHL action on December 19, 1974, when New York Rangers goalie Gilles Villemure was out sick. Thrust into the starting role against the Boston Bruins, Ridley allowed 6 goals on just 16 shots before being pulled in the first period. Despite the rough start, Ridley did get some encouragement from coach Emile Francis.

Just 10 days after his NHL debut, Ridley bounced back to record his first career NHL win, making 30 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Kansas City Scouts on December 29, 1974. It was a nice comeback after that initial shellacking by Boston.

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Over his NHL career from 1974-1981, Ridley suited up for 3 different teams – the Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. He was frequently traded or relegated to the minor leagues, spending time with the organizations’ AHL and CHL affiliates.

Ridley’s most stability came with the Vancouver Canucks, for whom he played parts of four seasons starting in 1976 after a trade from Atlanta. Ridley put up his best NHL numbers with Vancouver, including a shutout and two wins over touring Soviet teams.

Considering his humble small-town roots, Ridley exceeded expectations by reaching the NHL at all. His career totals of 104 games played, 27 wins and induction into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame cemented his surprising yet lasting legacy in the sport.

Curt Ridley hockey card checklist

Over his short NHL career between 1974-1981, goaltender Curt Ridley was featured on a total of 7 hockey trading cards. His first were rookie cards in 1976-77 sets by O-Pee-Chee and Topps.

Year Card Set Name
Major Sets
1976-77 197 O-Pee-Chee – NHL RC
1976-77 197 Topps RC
1977-78 395 O-Pee-Chee
1978-79 302 O-Pee-Chee
Table Source: Hockey DB
Year Card Team Sets
1976-77 13 Vancouver Canucks – Royal Bank [NHL]
1977-78 12 Vancouver Canucks – Royal Bank [NHL]
1979-80 18 Vancouver Canucks – Royal Bank [NHL]
Table Source: Hockey DB

His Mask

While he had a journeyman NHL career, Curt Ridley left his mark with the uniquely designed masks he wore in the net. His colorful, custom-painted headgear stood out more than his play on the ice.

Ridley’s most famous mask was crafted during his time with the Vancouver Canucks. Painter Greg Harrison created a blue mask accented in green with the team’s stick-in-rink logo prominently featured in a clover shape. This distinctive look endeared Ridley to Canucks fans.

Curt Ridley Masks
Pic: Curt Ridley Masks (Image Source: NHL.com)

After being traded to Toronto, Ridley unveiled a new blue and white Maple Leaf’s mask. It included Toronto imagery like four maple leafs and the CN Tower. Each of his masks reflected the current team’s colors and symbols.

Early in his career, Ridley wore more plain masks in the minors. One nearly resulted in tragedy when a puck sliced part of his ear off, requiring emergency surgery. His pro masks provided better protection and expression.

While Ridley had a very average NHL career, his colorful masks left a lasting impression. In the end, the creatively painted headgear – not his play in the net – defined Ridley’s identity and legacy.

Curt Ridley Retirement Life

After finishing the 1981-82 season in the minors, Curt Ridley quietly drifted from pro hockey without any formal retirement. As he put it, “No one contacted me and I didn’t contact them, so it was over.” Ridley just walked away as the sport walked away from him.

Ridley settled down in Winnipeg initially after his playing days, working in sales of telephone and wireless communications systems. He later relocated to Dallas, Texas to escape the brutal Canadian winters.

Also Read: Former Ice Hockey Defender, Pk Subban, 33, Announced his Retirement after 13 NHL seasons

He considered playing 104 NHL games a dream come true, especially for a small-town Manitoba kid.

“As a player I was average, maybe a little less,” Ridley told Grimm. “I had my moments. I also had some bad moments. I didn’t think I’d ever play in the NHL, so it was all a plus. I met great people on and off the ice. I met some great booster club people who were just fantastic. 

“It was a great experience playing against Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne, Lanny McDonald … I could go on and on. It was a kid’s dream. I played against Gordie Howe, for God’s sake. It was a dream that had come true.”

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