There are a lot of junior hockey teams in Canada that are recognized for their success. The roots of that success ultimately fall on the shoulders of the man behind the bench. There is Brian Kilrea in Ottawa, Bert Templeton in North Bay, Jackie McLeod in Saskatoon and Ken Hodge in Portland. In Prince Albert, the man most commonly associated with the Prince Albert Raiders is Terry Simpson.
Terry joined the Raiders Nov. 9, 1972 after a junior hockey career in Estevan and a brief professional career in Jacksonville, Florida. Terry was a journeyman electrician in Shellbrook when he was hired by the Raiders, but his domination as a coach had already been set in motion. He had already led Shellbrook teams to a pair of Saskatchewan Intermediate “B” Championships and a North Saskatchewan Junior Hockey title.
When Terry took over the Raiders in their second year of existence, the team was in last place in the Saskatchewan Junior “A” Hockey League’s North Division. A nine-game winning streak to start his junior coaching career moved the Raiders up the standings. By Christmas the Raiders were in first place – a position the team would dominate the next nine years.
Terry guided the Raiders to eight provincial titles in his nine full seasons in the Tier 2 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Four of those years culminated in Centennial Cup Championships, the title presented to the top team in Canada. Terry won a staggering 433 games in Tier 2, more than any other coach in history at that level.
When the Raiders moved up to the Tier 1 Western Hockey League in 1982, Terry continued to wield his magic. In just three years of operation, Prince Albert was once again the top team in Canada when the Raiders won the Memorial Cup in 1985. Terry also had his first taste of international hockey success at this time winning the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Terry later added a silver medal in his second stint as a head coach of the national junior program.
All of Terry’s success did not go unnoticed. In 1986 he made the leap to the NHL where he became head coach of the New York Islanders.
In 1989-90 Terry returned to Prince Albert, He led the Raiders to a seventh game showdown with the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the East Division title. In his five years as head coach of the Raiders in the WHL, Terry had a record of 205 – 145 – 10.
Terry enjoyed varied success in the NHL for most of the 1990s with stints first as an assistant coach in Winnipeg, then as head coach in Philadelphia before moving back to Winnipeg, and then as an assistant coach in both Toronto and Anaheim.
Terry also returned to the WHL for one year. He coached the Red Deer Rebels, a team he brought into the league as an expansion franchise in the early 1990s.
The Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the sole of the Prince Albert Raiders to its shrine in the builder category.
Inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.