SUN Hockey Pool

Simpson heading to CBC

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Craig Simpson is moving from the bench to the booth.

The former Londoner has given up his role as an Edmonton Oilers assistant coach to join CBC television as a hockey analyst. He'll team with Jim Hughson, acknowledged as the best play-by-play man in the business.

The pair will eventually become the station's No. 1 broadcast pair taking over from Bob Cole and Harry Neale.

"It was a difficult decision for me and one that I didn't take lightly," Simpson said from Edmonton. "I had a real passion and enjoyed being a coach, more importantly I enjoyed being with the guys I worked with. Working with (Oilers' coach) Craig MacTavish (also a former Londoner), the other coaches and under (general manager) Kevin Lowe, was just the perfect work environment. I had long and hard talks with Craig about what were the opportunities."

Simpson had designs on becoming a head coach.

"But at my age, I didn't want to stay an assistant coach for too long," he said. "Mac was really good at giving me responsibility and allowing me to grow that way.

"If I was going to be a head coach, I'd have to probably move on and maybe go to the minors ... The age of my kids ... they didn't want to move from Edmonton. This opportunity gives up the idea of being a head coach quickly but it allows me the opportunity to have some stability with the family and work with great people as well. And that's really important for me."

Simpson and his family will remain in Edmonton. He has two sons and a daughter, all between the ages of 11 and 14.

"That's a key time in their life," Simpson said. "The option of going to our minor-league team and being a head coach in Springfield was not something that my family was really interested in, or myself.

"It gives me a great opportunity to give them some stability and maybe be around a little bit more."

Simpson played 10 years in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Buffalo. He won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers and scored 50 goals in 1987-88.

After his retirement, he worked as an analyst with several networks.

He joined the Oilers organization as an assistant in 2003. He appeared as a studio analyst on Hockey Night in Canada during the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Simpson is excited about his new gig, calling Hughson "the best in the business."

"We just had a press conference in Edmonton and Craig MacTavish came in the room and that was the hardest thing," Simpson said. "It's a little bit of a sad day for me that way professionally. I really care for those guys."


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