Troy Gillard got an unexpected text from WHL legend Thursday.
“Congrats, welcome to the fraternity.”
Those simple words came from the legendary Bob Ridley, who has called more than 4,000 WHL games for the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Calls, texts, emails and tweets poured in from all over as Gillard was appointed Thursday as the Red Deer Rebels director of broadcasts and media, after filling in as play-by-play man for the departed Cam Moon during the pandemic shortened season in 2021.
“It’s obviously a thrill. When I got into the media business starting with college in Calgary, sports broadcasting was what drew me to it,” he said.
“I always had my eyes on being a play-by-play guy somewhere, whether it was close to home or somewhere else. I was fortunate after all these years and a couple of lucky bounces, I get to do it at home and do it for the Rebels.”
Gillard, who grew up in Clive, has worked as news/sports director at Pattison Media since 2012, while also hosting the Rebels home broadcasts for most of that time.
He had previously called Allan Cup games for the Bentley Generals as well as for Hockey Canada at the 2012 Telus Cup and 2019 Alberta Cup for Hockey Alberta, before taking on the Rebels’ play-by-play duties during the 23-game season this year.
“That was unique in a lot of ways. In terms of it becoming a full-time job, I couldn’t have asked for a better trial by fire. I was doing these games by myself, obviously had Mike Moller for home games which was fantastic,” Gillard said.
“Not only the fact we had to games without fans so there was that lack of natural energy that you had to work in, but even driving myself to games… I put a lot of solo miles on.”
Gillard said he recognizes that taking over for the legend that was Cam Moon, will be no easy task. Moon was the Rebels play-by-play man for more than 20 years before he got a job calling games with the Edmonton Oilers in January.
“No better guy to learn from. Obviously not going to fill his shoes, guy who did it for 22 seasons,” Gillard said.
“The biggest thing I picked up from him, he never came to work a single day without a smile. The even bigger thing was the preparation and the amount of work he put in behind the scenes to be successful at a job like this, not only on the air but all the other stuff that goes into it.”
In addition to play-by-play, his new role will include communications, public relations and digital media.
Gillard will officially join the Rebels organization in July.
Until then, he is counting down the days until fans will be back in the seats at the Centrium.
“The big thrill is going to be when I’m in there calling games with fans in the rink, for the first time here, that’s going to be a big thrill for sure,” he said.