Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charlie Simmer, Two of the Greatest Goal seasons...almost

Charlie Simmer had two of the greatest back-to-back goal scoring seasons in NHL history...just about. In 1979/80 he scored 56 times in 64 games to tie for the league lead and the next year he matched it and played only one more game. Both years were marred by long-term injuries.

In 79/80 he threatened to equal Rocket Richard's mark of 50 goals in 50 games a year before Mike Bossy would do it. That year, Simmer had 36 goals through the first 40 games but injured his right knee ligaments on Jan. 9 and missed the next 15 games. Upon his return he ripped off 11 goals in his next 10 games to get to 47 goals in his first 50 games. In fact his scoring average before the injury was 0.900/game and afterwards was 0.833 (20 goals in 24 games). His season-long Goals/Game of 0.88 was only the 7th time since 1930 a player scored at that rate and works out to a 70 goal pace over 80 games.

The next season, Simmer was just as good...and just as injury bitten. He had 56 goals in 65 games until March 3, 1981 when he broke his leg. In an attempt to check Toronto's Borje Salming, Simmer lost his balance and fell to the ice with his leg doubled-up under his body. The fractured tibia kept him out for the remainder of the year. His 0.86 Goals/Game pace translates to a 69 goal full season.

Somewhat surprisingly, Simmer's two seasons were only the second time since 1930 that a player scored at least 0.85 Goals/Game in consecutive years. Phil Esposito had rates of 0.97 and 0.87 in 70/71 and 71/72. Since Simmer did it, only four other players have ever done it. Wayne Gretzky scored at least 0.85 Goals/Game in four straight years, Jari Kurri did it in 84/85 and 85/86, Mario Lemieux three in a row from 86/87 thru 88/89 and Brett Hull three in a row from 89/90 thru 91/92.

Simmer would never be quite the same after the broken leg, coming back in 81/82 with 15 goals in 50 games, then 29 in a full following season. In 83/84 he did score 44 goals but never reached the heights of 1980 and 1981 again. These two seasons do however stand with some of the best goal scoring years of all-time.

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