Induction Year: 2002
Borrowing a line from the Joni Mitchell song, Ryan Walter has looked at hockey from both sides now. After a 15-year career on the ice, Walter is now making a name for himself in the broadcast booth. Ryan enjoyed a sterling junior career with the B.C. Junior Hockey Leagues’ Langley Lords and the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Chiefs and Seattle Breakers. His play as a junior caught the eye of many NHL scouts and it was the Washington Capitals who won the prize, drafting Ryan second overall in the 1978 draft.
He made an immediate impact in the NHL, scoring 28 goals and adding 28 assists in his rookie year to finish as runner-up to Minnesota’s Bobby Smith in the Calder Trophy Rookie of the Year balloting. Ironically, Smith was also the only player drafted ahead of Ryan in the 1978 entry draft. Ryan Walter went on to play four seasons with the Capitals.
In 1982 Ryan was a key figure in a blockbuster trade between the Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens when he and teammate Rick Green were shipped to Montreal in exchange for four players: defencemen Rod Langway and Brian Engblom, along with forwards Craig Laughlin and Doug Jarvis. Ryan would spend the next nine seasons with the Habs, helping Montreal rekindle some of their past glory by helping the team to the Stanley Cup championship in 1986.
Ryan returned to the West Coast for the final two years of his playing career, signing a free-agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks in the summer of 1991. He retired from playing in 1993, 15 years and over 1,000 games after his professional career began.
Other highlights along the way included an appearance at the World Junior Hockey Championships, where he captained the Canadian entry; a berth in the NHL all-star game in 1983; and being named to Canada’s entry at the World Hockey Championships four times. Ryan was also named the Bud Light NHL Man of the Year in 1992, for his contributions on and off the ice.
Hanging up the blades didn’t mean Ryan Walter was leaving the game. Instead, he traded his stick for a microphone and embarked on a career as a radio and television colour commentator, which he continues to this day.