..Have just learned of the passing of Don Simmons last September..Mr. Simmons had insisted that His demise be kept very low key..The valiant Bruins Goalie had entered the NHL scene in very spectacular circumstaces, replacing an ailing Terry Sawchuck...Formed one of the 1rst effective Goaltending tandems with esteemed Veteran Harry Lumley...Was 2nd to don the Goalie mask in Feb. 1960..Was intrumental in Leafs Stanley Cup win in 1962..Was a back up for NY Rangers in later 1960s...Founded Don Simmons Sports, a concern dealing in Goaltending equipment..R.I.P. Sir....
I just drafted him to be my backup goalie (to WHA HOFer Wakely) in the HfBoards ATD board's 4th-tier AA draft last week, as the 125th goaltender selected this year, a bit of a steal I thought:
...goaltender Don Simmons, who was the starter in net when the Bruins made two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals runs in 1957 and 1958. He also came off the bench in Toronto to win a couple of games in the Leafs 1962 championship, so he played in the 1963 NHL all-star game (he was a 1st/2nd team all-star at three other levels of pro hockey). "Dippy" only was a starter in two NHL regular seasons but saw lots of action as the backup (to Lumley in Boston, Bower in Toronto), losing only 101 games of 249 NHL starts over 11 seasons, seven times top-6 in NHL shutouts, four times top-6 in wins.
Goalie Don Simmons made nearly 250 appearances for three different NHL clubs in the 50s and 60s. He was also known as a durable competitor in the minors during a pro career that lasted nearly 20 years.
Born in Port Colborne, Ontario, Simmons played junior with the Galt Rockets and St. Catharines Teepees. In 1951-52 he won 18 games as a rookie pro with the EHL's Springfield Indians and led the league with 31 wins for the club the next season. Both years he was named to the EHL second all-star team.
In 1956-57 he replaced Terry Sawchuk in the Boston Bruins' goal part way through the season and helped the club reach the Stanley Cup finals. He helped the team return to the finals the next season and won a personal high 24 games in 1958-59.
Simmons was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Ed Chadwick in 1961 and he was a solid back up to Johnny Bower. In 1962 he won a couple of games in the playoffs while helping the club win the Stanley Cup. By the mid-60s, Simmons found himself in the minors but he responded with 35 wins for the CHL's Tulsa Oilers in 1964-65. He eventually joined the New York Rangers via the Intra-League Draft and led the WHL in wins with the Vancouver Canucks in 1966-67. Simmons played a few games on Manhattan as an injury replacement before retiring in 1969.
My main memory of Don Simmons doesn't do him justice, but hockey and life are not always fair.
Simmons was in net the night of April 6, 1957 when Maurice Richard, aged 35 and in his first year as captain, scored four goals to lead the Canadiens past the Bruins in the first game of that year's final Stanley Cup series. The Bruins were leading 1-0 midway through the second period when Richard simply took the game over. He had his hat-trick by the end of the period and added another late in the game; he came close to scoring two or three more. My friend and I were watching live on a television set in Toronto and, both Canadiens fans who adored Richard, we were screaming with excitement and joy. I was 13 then. I'm 67 now. Time flies, but memories remain.
..Yes, Flem Mackell had opened the score....Apparent that Don Simmons was a rookie Goalie & the Bruins were missing key Defenseman Allan Stanley..Don Simmons redeemed himself sowewhat with a 2-0 shutout later in the series, again Fleming Mackell scoring both goals ...Montreal had almost completely shut down the Bruins top power unit of Leo Labine, Don McKenney & Real Chevrefils..Boston could have used the firepower of the constituted UKE Line a year early ...The Sawchuck defection had been a major setback in many ways; Had the Bruins shown a little more foresight & hired veteran Harry Lumley & instigated the tandem at that crucial point...BTW: My 1rst recollection was the CBS Saturday afternoon game in Feb. 1957, Boston was fighting both Mtl & Detroit for 1rst, Simmons had just arrived on the scene..An exciting 2=2 draw at Boston Gardens...Maurice Richard interviewed between periods...Was 5 years old...Mythical times...
..Yes, titanic struggles...The late announcer Tom Foley, when summing up the 1958 finals, called the 365 odd minutes & 45 seconds: ``The most constantly exciting hockey the game has ever presented!!``..Describes the drama very well!