By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Don Simmons, a former goaltender for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers, played for eleven years in the NHL. Don Simmons would’ve been 90 today, but unfortunately, Simmons passed away on September 24th, 2010, at 79. In the eleven years that Simmons played in the NHL, Simmons won three Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1962, 1963, 1964) and made the all-star game in 1963. In honor of Simmons’s birthday, let’s take a look back at his career.
Career with Boston
Before playing in the NHL, Simmons played junior hockey for the Galt Black Hawks in 1948-1949 and then the St. Catherine TeePees in 1950-1951. After playing in juniors, Simmons went up to pro and played for the Springfield Indians for four seasons and then the Johnstown Jets for one season. Finally, in 1956-1957, Simmons got his chance to play in the NHL. The Boston Bruins decided to sign Simmons to replace Terry Sawchuk as the starting goaltender.
Simmons would end up playing in tandem with veteran goaltender Harry Lumley for three seasons. In his first three seasons sharing the net with Lumley, Simmons went 52-49-21, averaged a 2.90 GAA, and had 12 shutouts. In 1957 and 1958, Simmons helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals against their hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, Boston would lose in both of those finals. Two seasons later, Simmons became the second goaltender to wear a mask regularly. Jacques Plante was the other goaltender. As Simmons’s numbers were depleting, the Bruins took note and decided to trade Simmons to Toronto in 1961.
Winning with Toronto
Simmons was traded to Toronto and was set to back up starting goaltender Johnny Bower. In his first season backing up Bower, Simmons went 5-3-1 and hosted a 2.33 GAA. Simmons and the Maple Leafs would also win the Stanley Cup in 1961-1962. While Simmons’s first season numbers with Toronto were decent for the number of games he played, his next season was even better. Simmons would go 15-8-5, earning a 2.47 GAA, and help Toronto win another Stanley Cup in 1962-1963. The next season would be Simmons’s last with Toronto, and they would win another Stanley Cup for the three-peat.
End of Career
In the offseason of 1965, Simmons was claimed by the New York Rangers in the Inter-League Draft. Unfortunately, Simmons would not get much playing time with the Rangers. In his five seasons playing with the Rangers, Simmons only played 22 games. In his 22 games in New York, Simmons went a dismal 4-10-4 and had a disappointing 3.47 GAA. After not playing a lot for the Rangers and becoming old, Simmons was traded to Buffalo (AHL) for cash considerations. That would be Simmons last season playing hockey, and he decided to retire from the game. In his career, Simmons played 249 games, went 100-102-41, earned a 2.89 GAA, and shut out his opponents 20 times. However, after playing hockey in the NHL, Simmons would go on to make an impact off the ice. Don Simmons created “Don Simmons Sports, ” a successful Ontario franchise specializing in goalie equipment.
Don Simmons wasn’t the greatest goaltender ever but, Simmons was a leader on the ice. Whether it was helping Boston reach the Finals twice or winning three straight Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Simmons showed that his confidence in the net was enough for his teams to take the next leap. Simmons also made an impact off the ice by creating “Simmons Sports” and helping goaltenders get equipment to up their game. On behalf of the BNG Hockey Organization, Happy 90th Birthday Don Simmons.