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1985
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1985 NHL DRAFT PICK
Craig Simpson
Selected in first round
No. 2 overall by Pittsburgh Penguins

Born February 15, 1967
Position: Center
Height: 6-2   Weight: 185
BEFORE THE DRAFT
Last Team: Michigan State (CCHA)                    
Birthplace: London, Ontario (Canada)
Hometown: London, Ontario
PRE-DRAFT STATISTICS
Year TeamLeague GPG ATP PIM
1981-82 LondonJr. B ---- ---- --
1982-83 LondonJr. B 4247 64111 68
1983-84 Michigan StateCCHA 4614 4357 38
1984-85 Michigan StateCCHA 4231 5384 33

PRE-DRAFT AWARDS AND HONORS
NCAA All-America West First Team:
1984-85 (Michigan State)
Western Junior B Rookie of the Year: 1982-83 (London)
CCHA All-Star First Team: 1984-85 (Michigan State)
CCHA Tournament All-Star First Team: 1985 (Michigan State)
Western Junior B All-Star First Team: 1982-83 (London)
Michigan State Price Award (Points Leader): 1984-85 (84)
CCHA Points Leader: 1984-85 (Michigan State) (84 points)
Western Jr. B Points Leader: 1982-83 (London) (111 points)
Western Jr. B Goals Leader: 1982-83 (London) (47 goals)
Western Jr. B Assists Leader: 1982-83 (London) (64 assists)
Miscellaneous: Ranked by NHL Central Scouting Bureau as No. 1 overall prospect for the 1985 NHL draft. ... Rated in The Hockey News draft preview issue as No. 1 overall prospect for the 1985 NHL draft. ... Led Michigan State with 84 points, 31 goals and 53 assists in 1984-85. ... 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. ... Majored in business administration at Michigan State. ... Turned down invitation to join Team Canada for 1985 World Junior Championships because he did not want to leave his Michigan State teammates for any part of their CCHA conference schedule or the annual Great Lakes Invitational tournament. ... Scored two goals for Michigan State in his first college hockey game, on Oct. 14, 1983, vs. Northwestern. He was named that game's No. 1 star. ... Led Michigan State 57 points and 43 assists as a freshman in 1983-84 and tied for team lead with five game-winning goals. ... Wore No. 27 at Michigan State. ... Named CCHA Player of Week twice during 1984-85 season. ... Was finalist for 1984-85 Hobey Baker Award. ... Played in Oakridge minor hockey system while growing up in London, Ontario. ... 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.
NHL CAREER
Debut: October 10, 1985 (Montreal at Pittsburgh)
Numbers:  18 (Pittsburgh); 18 (Edmonton); 22, 17 (Buffalo)
Stanley Cup: 1988, 1990.  Playing Status: Retired August 24, 1995
CAREER NHL STATISTICS
YearsTeams GPG ATP PIM
1985-1995 Pitt., Edmonton, Buff. 634247 250497 659
CAREER NHL PLAYOFF STATISTICS
YearsTeams GPG ATP PIM
1988-1992 Edmonton67 3632 6856

NHL AWARDS AND HONORS
Edmonton Top First-Year Oiler Award:
1987-88
Edmonton Community Service Award: 1989-90, 1990-91
50-Goal Seasons: 1987-88 (Pittsburgh-Edmonton) (56 goals)
NHL Shooting Percentage Leader: 1987-88 (Pitt.-Edm.) (31.6%), 1992-93 (Edmonton) (26.4%)
Club records: Montreal
NHL Playoffs Points Leader: 1990 (Edmonton) (31 points, tie)
NHL Playoffs Goals Leader: 1990 (Edmonton) (16 goals)
Edmonton Goals Leader: 1987-88 (43, tie)
Edmonton Penalty-Minutes Leader: 1989-90 (180)
Edmonton Playoffs Points Leader: 1990 (31, tie)
Edmonton Playoffs Goals Leader: 1990 (16)
Edmonton Playoffs Assists Leader: 1991 (11, tie)
Coaching Career: Named Edmonton assistant coach on Aug. 11, 2003, and remained in that position through 2006-07 season.
Broadcasting Career: Named commentator for TSN's "The Hockey Show" and NHLPA's "Be a Player" show in 1996 and remained in that position through 1995-96 season. ... Named Los Angeles studio analyst prior to 1996-97 season and remained in that position through 1997-98 season. ... Named Edmonton studio analyst prior to 1998-99 season and remained in that position until through 2000-01 season. ... Named Edmonton TV color commentator prior to 2001-02 season and remained in that position until Aug. 11, 2003.
Miscellaneous: 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. ... Signed four-year, $700,000 contract with Pittsburgh in August 1985, making him the highest-paid member of the 1985 draft class. The fourth year of Simpson's contract was a club option year. ... 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. ... Played on line with Terry Ruskowski and Doug Shedden for Pittsburgh in 1985-86. ... Missed part of 1986-87 season with bruised chest, an injury suffered during Pittsburgh's Oct. 29, 1986, game at New Jersey. He did not return to action until Pittsburgh's Nov. 8, 1986, game at Minnesota. ... Missed part of 1986-87 season with pulled muscle in right hip, an injury suffered during Pittsburgh's Feb. 28, 1987, game vs. Chicago. ... Missed part of 1986-87 game with re-aggravation of hip injury, suffered during Pittsburgh's March 5, 1987, game at Toronto. He did not return to action until Pittsburgh's March 18, 1987, game vs. St. Louis. ... Shifted from right wing to left wing after joining Edmonton in late November 1987. He would play primarily at left wing for the remainder of his NHL career. ... Played on line with Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson for Edmonton in 1987-88. ... 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. ... Finished second in NHL behind Mario Lemieux with 56 goals in 1987-88. ... Finished third in NHL with 22 power-play goals in 1987-88. ... Finished third in NHL with eight game-winning goals in 1987-88. ... Led Edmonton with 18 power-play goals in 1987-88. ... Scored three points for Edmonton in his first NHL playoff game on April 6, 1988, vs. Winnipeg. ... Finished second in NHL with 13 playoff goals in 1988. ... Missed part of 1988-89 season with bruised right ankle, an injury suffered while blocking a Brian Leetch slap shot during Edmonton's Dec. 4, 1988, game vs. N.Y. Rangers. He did not return to action until Edmonton's Dec. 15, 1988, game at Boston. ... Missed part of 1988-89 season with hairline fracture in right ankle, related to his Dec. 4, 1988, injury that was re-aggravated during Edmonton's Dec. 17, 1988, game at Harford. X-rays revealed the fracture on Dec. 20, and Simpson did not return to action until Edmonton's Jan. 8, 1989, game vs. Calgary. He had two assists in that game. ... Missed part of 1988-89 season with re-aggravation of right ankle injury, suffered during Edmonton's Jan. 13, 1989, game at Washington. He did not return until Edmonton's Jan. 20, 1989, game vs. Philadelphia. ... Finished third among Campbell Conference left wings in fan balloting for 1989 NHL All-Star Game. ... Finished second in NHL with 28.9 percent shooting percentage in 1988-89. ... 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. The goal gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead in a game Edmonton went on to win 4-1. ... Missed part of 1990-91 season with back spasms, an injury suffered during Edmonton's Jan. 12, 1991, game at New Jersey. He did not return to action until Edmonton's Jan. 17, 1991, game at N.Y. Islanders. ... Suspended by NHL for three games during 1990-91 season for cross-checking Steve Bozek in the shoulder in Edmonton's Jan. 23, 1991, game vs. Vancouver, causing a partial separation of Bozek's shoulder. Simpson played several games after the incident, but following a review by the NHL, the suspension was announced on Feb. 8, 1991, and Simpson did not return until Edmonton's Feb. 14, 1991, game vs. Los Angeles. ... Led Edmonton in shooting percentage in all four seasons between 1987-88 and 1990-91 and again in 1992-93. ... Missed part of 1991-92 season with bruised chest, an injury suffered during Edmonton's Nov. 3, 1991, game at Vancouver. ... Missed remainder of 1992 playoffs with separated right shoulder, an injury suffered when he was checked by Larry Robinson during Game 1 of Edmonton's first-round series at Los Angeles on April 18, 1992. ... 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. ... Scored goal in his first game with Buffalo on Oct. 7, 1993, at Boston. ... 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. ... Played on line with Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny for Buffalo in 1993-94. ... 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.
Almost a Shark: 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.
NON-NHL CAREER
Post-Draft Teams: None
NON-NHL AWARDS AND HONORS
Education:
Completed bachelor's degree at Michigan State during off-seasons of his early NHL playing days.
Miscellaneous: Took over as resident of Wayne Gretzky's penthouse apartment in Edmonton after Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles in September 1988. ... Was active in charitable causes during his playing days, including work to help raise money for cystic fibrosis research and as honorary chairman of the Edmonton Muscular Dystrophy Association and Edmonton Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre. ... Organized annual celebrity slo-pitch softball game to raise money for charities in London, Ontario, during summer of 1989. ... Organized annual "Never Say Never" golf tourney to aid Edmonton Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre and Craig Simpson & Friends Charity Fund in summer of 1989. ... Served as president of Edmonton Oilers Alumni association after retirement. ... Founded Craig Simpson Hockey School in Edmonton in summer of 2000. ... Voiced color commentary for EA Sports' NHL 2004, NHL 2005 and NHL 2006 games.
Personal: Full name is Craig Andrew Simpson. ... Son of 1952 Canadian track & field Olympic athlete Marion Simpson. ... Younger brother of former minor-leaguer Dave Simpson. ... Younger brother of Rogers Sportsnet reporter Christine (Chris) Simpson.
HOW HE GOT AWAY
TRADE: Pittsburgh traded Simpson, Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph to Edmonton in exchange for Paul Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp on November 24, 1987.
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