December 01, 2015
Dennis Riggin is one of three generations of goalies in the Riggin family. His father Mel was a junior A standout in Ontario, though never played pro. And his son Pat played in almost 400 NHL games between the pipes.
That made Dennis and Pat only the second father-son NHL goaltending connection in history. Sam and Pete LoPresti were the first, and recently Ron and Ron Grahame Jr. have completed the trick.
Like his own father, Dennis was a teenage phenom in junior hockey, and he later became a standout in the old professional WHL with the Edmonton Flyers, a Detroit Red Wings farm team. He was billed as a sure NHL prospect and the heir apparent in Detroit to goaltending legend Terry Sawchuk before suffering from serious injury.
He got into 9 games with the Wings in 1959-60 while Sawchuk was recuperating from an arthritic condition. Riggin posted a 3.55 GAA and had one shutout. In 1962-63 he returned to the NHL, playing another 9 games with the Wings, with a 4-4 record and a 2.97 GAA.
Unfortunately for Riggin, his career was interrupted and eventually ended after the 1963 season as a result of successive eye injuries requiring surgery and long recuperation. During the 1959-60 season he suffered a detached retina of the left eye. Two years later, in an even freakier happening, Riggin endured an identical injury but to his other eye! He tried to comeback after surgery, but it was not in cards. he retired after 1963.
Dennis worked for Molson for 30 years. His passions were owning race horses and supporting Big Brothers/Big Sisters.