Craig Simpson is terrific for television. He looks like he could be a relative of Christopher Reeve while being much too articulate to be considered just a hockey player.
From all reports he is not the second coming of Scotty Bowman as a coach. Simpson is (according to us fans) the main problem with the powerplay, although some of us (me, maybe others) suspect MacT must be involved (since the PP often looks like he’s on it).
There are lots of things I bet you don’t know about Craig Simpson, especially if you’re under 25. Since we don’t know the name of his replacement and there isn’t much to say about the guy Simpson is going to replace (I like Harry Neale, he even almost got fired by not firing Roger Neilson until he absolutely had to) here are a few things you may not know about Craig Simpson:
- He had a big season in college, 84-85. He was CCHA 1st All-Star and NCAA West 1st Team All-American.
- He was a finalist for 1984-85 Hobey Baker Award.
- He was drafted 2nd overall in 1985.
- Simpson was acquired in a huge deal that sent Paul Coffey to Pittsburgh.
- He won 2 Stanley’s with the Oilers, ’88 and ’90.
- His mother was a member of the 1952 Canadian Olympic track team.
- Skipped third grade, and was one year younger than classmates for remainder of his years in school.
- Was youngest freshman ever to play at Michigan State University.
- He completed Grade 11 and Grade 12 requirements in same year (1982-83) at Oakridge Secondary School in London, Ontario, so he could enter college at age 16.
- In 87-88 he led the NHL in shooting percentage. 31.6%.
- He was represented by his father, Donald Simpson, in his first NHL contract negotiations, because he would lose his NCAA eligibility if he hired a certified NHL player agent before signing his first NHL contract.
- Moved from his natural position of center to right wing upon joining Pittsburgh in 1985-86. He played the remainder of his NHL career at both right and left wing.
- Scored his 50th goal of the 1987-88 season during Edmonton’s March 15, 1988, game vs. Buffalo. With that goal, he became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals over a season played with more than one team.
- Scored Stanley Cup-clinching goal at 9:31 of the second period of Game 5 of Edmonton’s Stanley Cup Finals series at Boston on May 24, 1990.
- Missed part of 1990-91 season with back spasms, an injury suffered during Edmonton’s Jan. 12, 1991, game at New Jersey.
- Missed part of 1992-93 season with strained lower back, a chronic injury that became unbearable during Edmonton’s Jan. 3, 1993, game vs. Philadelphia. He did not return to action until Edmonton’s Jan. 13, 1993, game vs. Winnipeg.
- Missed part of 1992-93 season with re-aggravation of lower back injury and pain in leg, suffered during Edmonton’s Feb. 21, 1993, game at Montreal. He did not return to action until Edmonton’s March 4, 1993, game vs. Winnipeg.
- Missed remainder of 1992-93 season with protruded disc in lower back, an injury diagnosed after Edmonton’s March 6, 1993, game at Los Angeles.
- Missed part of 1993-94 season with back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s Nov. 17, 1993, game at New Jersey. He did not return to action until Buffalo’s Nov. 26, 1993, game vs. Ottawa.
- Missed half of 1993-94 season with re-aggravation of back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s Dec. 1, 1993, game at Tampa Bay. He did not return to action until Buffalo’s March 8, 1994, game at San Jose.
- Missed remainder of 1993-94 season and entire 1994 playoffs with re-aggravation of back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s March 8, 1994, game at San Jose.
- Missed part of 1995 season with pulled hamstring, an injury suffered during Buffalo’s Feb. 25, 1995, game at Hartford. He did not return to action until Buffalo’s March 11, 1995, game at Pittsburgh.
- Missed part of 1995 season with re-aggravation of lower back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s March 21, 1995, game vs. Pittsburgh. The injury required him to undergo nerve block surgery in California, and he did not return until Buffalo’s April 19, 1995, game at Boston.
- Missed part of 1995 season with re-aggravation of back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s April 19, 1995, game at Boston. He did not return to action until Buffalo’s May 3, 1995, game vs. New Jersey.
- Missed remainder of 1995 season and entire 1995 playoffs with re-aggravation of lower back injury, suffered during Buffalo’s May 3, 1995, game vs. New Jersey. He never played in the NHL after that, as the back problems ended his career, when at age 28, he accepted Buffalo’s offer to buy out the final year of his contract in August 1995.
- Simpson found himself at the center of an NHL controversy during the summer of 1993 after he signed an offer sheet with San Jose as a restricted free agent on July 16, 1993. For the next 10 days, Simpson appeared to be Sharks property, but on July 26, 1993, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman returned his rights to Edmonton by invalidating the San Jose contract. The NHL Players Association challenged Bettman’s ruling and filed a lawsuit against the NHL on Aug. 18, 1993. The dispute stemmed from the Sharks’ belief that they did not owe Edmonton any compensation because Simpson had signed a contract of less than $200,000 for the 1993-94 season. Simpson had already rejected a $690,000 offer made earlier in the summer by Edmonton, because it fell short of the minimum 15 percent raise that would keep him a restricted free agent. Simpson and his agent, Don Meehan, therefore believed he was an unrestricted free agent. Nevertheless, it wasn’t likely that he would be willing to play for less than $200,000. In fact, the actual deal with San Jose was for $3 million over three years, but most of the money was structured as a bonus payout so as to exploit a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that said teams did not have to give compensation if a free agent signed for less than $200,000. Oilers general manager Glen Sather called San Jose’s move “a bogus offer.” Bettman agreed, saying the Sharks’ offer “was an obvious attempt to circumvent the rules.” The NHLPA, in its lawsuit, demanded that an arbitrator be brought in to decide the case, and Simpson demanded that Edmonton trade him if he was forced to return to the Oilers. While waiting for a resolution of the lawsuit Simpson then said he would sign an offer sheet with Buffalo if the Oilers did not trade him. The situation was finally resolved on Sept. 1, 1993, when Sather traded Simpson to Buffalo in exchange for Jozef Cierny and a conditional draft pick. A happy Simpson then signed with Buffalo, and the NHLPA dropped its lawsuit after San Jose said it would no longer try to claim Simpson.
The Simpson back problems had a major impact on his career and that beauty Oilers team after the 1990 Stanley.
**MUCH of the above was taken from the wonderful hockeydraftcentral site. I don’t know why it hasn’t been updated in a long time, but I do know that the information 63-85 available there is invaluable to hockey fans.