Sabres' Simonick was honored by his peers

Rip has been with the franchise since Day 1

Paul Hamilton
June 26, 2018 - 3:47 pm
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - In my opinion, this is an honor that should’ve happened 20 years ago, but Sabres equipment manager Rip Simonick was honored over the weekend in Orlando as the Hall of Fame honoree of the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society/Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers. Simonick will be recognized by the Hall of Fame in Toronto during November.

Simonick has met every single player that has come through the door since 1970 and he said, “It’s an honor that I never thought I would get, a kid from the neighborhood, like 10 blocks away in the old First Ward, a little chunky guy walking to the arena with my mentor Frank Christie and he always would say to me, ‘What took you so long?’ But I was walking and he didn’t know that, but I had a lot of family and friends there and it was great to be honored by the National Hockey League.”

Rick Jeanneret, Pat LaFontaine and Rob Ray were all in Florida to help honor Rip. That alone touched Simonick, “They’re very, very loyal friends, away from the rink and at the rink. Obviously they’re legendary people and it was sensational, for them to rub elbows with my family members, I mean Rick and Robbie, played off each other and Patty was serious.”

The job entails VERY long hours and sometimes the equipment guys never go home. Still, Simonick wouldn’t have it any other way, “The best part of the job is like today, a new player (Rasmus Dahlin), I had Phil Housley as a rookie and the expectations.

“I still travel, I love the job, I love the game, it’s been hard the last few years, we haven’t made the playoffs, but I get to see former players and I like to keep up with their lives.”

Simonick is loved by any player that I have spoken with and he said the feeling is mutual, “I don’t know if everybody would be crazy enough like me to work 50 years with one organization, but I’ve had great owners, I’ve had great general managers and the big thing is that I tried to get along with everybody, everybody that puts the uniform on, everybody that worked for the organization, I still try to keep in contract and I have no hard feelings ever.

“I’ve had a few people that I did not really get along with, but I survived and I try to be a positive guy all the time.”

Rip was there the day Gil Perreault walked in the door and the day Rasmus Dahlin walked in the door. Things have changed a lot in between, “The big thing now is money and the amount of money that these kids can make and my job is equipment, so a kid like this nowadays is prepared when he comes in.

“I had 97 players in Peterborough and the first year, half of them had equipment and half of them didn’t, so they had their one shift on the ice and they said, 'This kid can’t even skate, so let’s take his equipment away from him and give it to somebody else', but now they have agents, they have the sticks they like, the skates they like, so everything is right there for them.”

So a standing ovation to Rip Simonick as he’ll finally get his due and be honored at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Rip has always been great to me and is just a quality human being.

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