📝 by Joel Vanderlaan | AHL On The Beat
In the American Hockey League, Belleville Senators rookie Ridly Greig routinely faces tough competition, something he is used to.
His father Mark, an amateur scout with the Philadelphia Flyers organization, is a former AHL All-Star and Calder Cup champion who also played 125 games in the National Hockey League. And he consistently experienced top opposition from his equally talented sisters as a youth: Dara won a national championship at the University of Wisconsin and currently plays for Colgate University; Kyra has skated at the Universities of Lethbridge and Calgary.
“It was always hockey 24/7,” a reminiscing Mark Greig said with a smile. “I was very competitive, and sometimes sisters and brothers don’t always get along. All three are fairly driven athletes; they grew up in a culture of competing every night and enjoy that part of it as much as anything.
“We had a man-made pond in our community, a fairly good size, we had a neighbor, and we called him ‘Rod the ice god.’ He had the lines painted on it. It had some boards behind the nets, so we didn’t have to chase the puck. He flooded it every night. It was a staple for Ridly and both his sisters. They’d come home from school or after their own hockey practice and get out there to play, and from a parent’s standpoint, it was days that I’ll never forget.”
From the local pond in his Lethbridge, Alberta, neighborhood, Ridly Greig quickly moved to high-level organized hockey, where he continued to approach the game with the same dedication and commitment to constantly improve.
“I think around 10 or 11, he started playing more competitively,” Mark said. “He started playing a little bit out of his age class and was still finding some success. So, I was kind of curious where it might go from there, but I also kind of recognized his passion for the game away from the rink around the house. When we weren’t at the rink, we were on the pond. It was a little bit of a tell-all that he enjoyed the game and had a passion for it. So, I felt that maybe he had a chance to make it.”
Throughout his journey, Ridly also took inspiration from his father’s employer. A pair of former Philadelphia Flyers captains gave him the templates he needed to develop his unique style of play and approach to the game.
“He was a big-time Flyers fan,” said Mark, who played for the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms from 1998 to 2003. “Obviously, with me playing in the system and scouting there. Guys that he kind of catered to were competitive, hard-skilled players like Mike Richards and Claude Giroux. He was drawn to those players for different reasons and sometimes seeing is believing. He wanted to have the skill set to take part offensively, but he wanted to have layers to his game as far as competitiveness and physicality, and it makes for an interesting dynamic.”
Building his game on the model of players like Giroux and Richards helped Ridly become an extremely well-rounded centerman, able to contribute at both ends of the ice. In a short time, he became a junior star with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, accumulating 191 points (76 goals, 115 assists) over 183 appearances. He was ultimately selected 28th overall in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
After an impressive start to his rookie campaign with the Belleville Senators, Ridly is now well on his way to achieving his full potential. Of course, Mark isn’t forgetting all those who helped his son and emphasized while he’s extremely proud that his son has developed into a professional player. More than that, he has become a role model in his community.
“He is very fortunate in the support that he’s had, right from our neighborhood to the teams that he played on, in the people that he was involved with, in minor hockey, that he’s still connected to this day. I think a lot of times, communities play a big part in a young player’s journey, and they provide a lot of support and resources and are fortunate to be raised around Lethbridge and in a hockey community that has some passion.
“I want him to be a very good hockey player, be diligent, have strengths to his games, but you want to raise good kids, you want the kids to carry themselves well, you want them to be respected. You want them to treat people the way you like to be treated. So, it’s probably a credit to his mother (Cindy), the time that she spent with them. When I was off scouting, I tried to implement the things that she was driving home day to day, but it’s rewarding to hear, and you try to push them forward.”