Riley Cote was born on March 16, 1982 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Undrafted, Cote honed his skills with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
As a member of the Price Albert Raiders, Cote quickly earned a reputation as a bruising enforcer, racking up 382 penalty minutes in 235 games played. After four years of junior hockey with the Raiders, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed the Winnipeg, Manitoba native to a one-year contract. In his first professional season, Cote was sent to the Leafs' CHL affiliate, the Memphis RiverKings. Although Cote was called up to the AHL for 6 games, he would spend the majority of his year with the RiverKings, collecting a CHL Championship that season. The Leafs opted not to resign Cote who eventually returned to the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. After splitting his 2003-04 season with the Crunch, he was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Flyers on October 16, 2004. Over the next few seasons Cote would lace his skates up with the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms. With the Phantoms, he quickly became a fan favourite and would win the Calder Cup with the club in 2004-05.
In 2006-07, Cote began the season with the Flyers and went on to compete in 8 games with the club throughout the season.