The native of Brampton, Ont., is headed back to the Spengler Cup and this time he’ll be the head coach of the Canadian team when it competes in Davos, Switzerland from Dec. 26-31. Simpson has been an assistant coach with the team during the last three Spengler Cups.
“It always a great experience and lots of fun,” Simpson told The Canadian Press from his home in Switzerland on Thursday. “Your over here all year coaching in Europe so it’s always great to get together with not only the Canadian team but the Canadian staff.”
Simpson’s full-time job is coaching EV Zug in the Swiss Elite League. He first headed to Europe some 25 years ago to pursue a playing career and has been there ever since.
The 48-year-old returns to Canada every summer with his wife and daughter and still feels a strong affinity for the country of his birth.
He’ll be joined at the Spengler Cup by Jim Koleff and Doug Gilmour, who will serve as assistant coaches.
Koleff is originally from Hamilton and has also spent most of his professional life in Europe. He was an assistant with the Canadian team at the Spengler Cup last year under Pat Quinn and is currently the general manager of Lausanne in Switzerland.
Since retiring from the NHL, Gilmour has worked as a player development advisor with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will be his first international coaching assignment, but Simpson says more than 1,400 games of NHL experience more than qualify him for the position.
“He’s got a wealth of experience and he knows hockey as well as anybody,” Simpson said of Gilmour, who played in Switzerland during the 1994-’95 NHL lockout. “The respect and everything he’s going to have from the players is going to be incredible.
“He knows the game inside and out.”
The Canadian team has finished second at the Spengler Cup the past two years. It last won the five-team tournament in 2003.
Canada’s Spengler Cup roster will be made up mostly of European-based professionals. The team will also add some AHL players.