1925-31 New York Americans NHL Player's Jacket
1925-31 New York Americans NHL Player's JacketThis 1925-31 Americans jacket belonged to Harold Joseph "Bullet Joe" Simpson who was a player for the New York Americans.
From the Doug Simpson collection
Photo and story courtesy of Dave Pierce.

Harold Joseph 'Bullet Joe' started his career in the Canadian west. He was born in Selkirk Manitoba on August 13, 1893. He learned the sport of hockey on a frozen slough, just down from his house, during the early 1900's. As Bullet Joe once stated Manitoba Avenue ran east and west in the middle of Selkirk. The boys living in the north end were the northern team and those south of Manitoba Avenue made up the southern team.

After graduating from the Selkirk Fishermen Juniors, Simpson played senior hockey with the Winnipeg Victoria's of the NHA in 1914-15.

Prior to enlisting in the Canadian Army for WW1 he captained the 1916 Allan Cup Champions 61st Battalion Team of Winnipeg.

During the war he served with the 43rd. Cameron-Highlanders and his unit held part of the British front along side a battalion commanded by Major Winston Churchill.

Bullet Joe was wounded twice during the war, once at the Somme, and once at Amiens. He received the military medal of valor.

Simpson returned home in February of 1919 having achieved the rank of lieutenant. He was in time to play in the last four games of the hockey season for his home town Selkirk Fisherman Seniors of the Manitoba Seniors League. He started again for the Seniors the following year.

In 1920 at 5'10" and 175 pounds, this right handed defenseman's break came in a Winnipeg pool room when Kenny MacKenzie of the Big 4's Edmonton Eskimos offered Bullet $3,000 to turn professional. Upon hearing the offer, he chalked his cue and replied that if MacKenzie could sell the deal to his father then Edmonton would have themselves a hockey player.

Edmonton got their player and Bullet headed off to join the Eskimos in 1920, signing as a free agent November 4.

In 1921-22 he won a Western Hockey League first team all star birth. He was named to the first team on three occasions and to the second team once. At that time Newsy Lalonde called Bullet Joe Simpson the greatest living hockey player. His end to end rushes were legendary and without comparison.

When the Western Hockey League ceased operations at the end of the 1924-25 season, Simpson's contract was purchased by the New York Americans of the National Hockey League. Bullet Joe Simpson, John Morrison and Roy Rickey were traded September 18, 1925 for $10,000.

Bullet played six seasons with the Amerks and in 1931 took the role as coach for the team for three years, he later managed the New Haven and Minneapolis teams.

Bullet Joe moved to Florida in 1938 to promote hockey. He later suffered a heart attack that kept him inactive for two years.

Another retired hockey player and Floridian came to his aid. Art Coulter hired him to work at the Coulter White's hardware store in Coral Gables Florida, a position he held until 1965.

Bullet gave his team jacket to his nephew in 1968. His nephew then handed it down to his son, where it has remained in the Doug Simpson family collection.

Bullet Joe Simpson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962. He passed away December 25, 1973 in Coral Gables, Florida at the age of 80 years.

In 1994, the Marine Museum of Manitoba in Selkirk restored a 1963 flat bottomed freighter and renamed it the Harold Bullet Joe Simpson which is now on display.