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Hockey Fights Cancer

Sportscaster's marathon trip for Hockey Fights Cancer in home stretch

Simpson also promoting book while seeing 31 NHL games in 31 days

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Rob Simpson is holding up well.

The 54-year-old sportscaster is going to 31 NHL games in 31 days but looked fairly rested at game No. 24 when the Montreal Canadiens played the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday. After game No. 23, a 6-2 win for the Philadelphia Flyers at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Simpson got home to Toronto for a rare good night's sleep.

"I did some laundry, got refreshed and flew into Chicago today," Simpson said. "So that's a highly unusual portion of the schedule to have that luxury."

Simpson began his trek Nov. 16, when the Dallas Stars defeated the Boston Bruins 1-0 in overtime at American Airlines Center. His final game will be the Bruins hosting the Nashville Predators at TD Garden on Dec. 16. SummerSkates, a company that makes sandals out of hockey laces, has sponsored much of his trip.

What prompted this?

"Boredom and wanderlust," Simpson said. "I just wanted to spice it up. It had been a while since I'd seen my buddies around the League because I used to travel around the League doing television. And I thought, 'You know what? I'm going to tie that concept together with doing the radio show on the road, selling my book on the road' and that's about it."

Throughout his travels, Simpson continues to host 'Stellick and Simmer' on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m. ET. He's also promoting his book, "No Heavy Lifting: Globetrotting Adventures of a Sports Media Guy." He also gets two pucks at each game; a referee signs one to show Simpson was there. When he's done, Simpson will auction the entire set of pucks to benefit Hockey Fights Cancer.

Simpson feared his plan would end before it really began when his original flight from Vancouver to San Jose on Nov. 20 was canceled.

"I had 10 minutes of panic," Simpson said. "On the SkyTrain going to Vancouver Airport I thought I was toast. But I got hooked up with a more direct flight that got me in an hour earlier than my original flight."

Endurance has been key, especially Dec. 1 when Simpson went to two games to make up for Thanksgiving (no NHL games that day). He watched the Ottawa Senators defeat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 at Canadian Tire Centre that afternoon, then drove 2½ hours to Montreal, where the Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 at Bell Centre that night.

Simpson was getting anywhere from one to three hours of sleep on the West Coast, where he was catching games at night and getting up at 3:30 a.m. for his radio show a half hour later. He's gotten home twice: Nov. 26 when the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-2 at Scotiabank Arena, and Saturday.

"It's stamina," he said. "I'm in decent shape and I really think that's the key to this. I carry my bags everywhere, one briefcase, one bag, and their weighted down by pucks. At one point I had 28 pucks in my bag."

But there have been good times with friends, some of whom he's stayed with during his travels, and some great hockey. He's watched the Edmonton Oilers five times on this trip.

"[The Oilers] were 1-3-0 with me in attendance and then they pulled out the last one," Simpson said of Edmonton's 3-2 shootout win at the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 5. "The staff was getting ticked off at me."

Simpson expects to take 24 flights when his trip is complete. He's driven when possible. He'll drive four hours to Detroit to watch the Red Wings play the Los Angeles Kings at Little Caesars Arena on Monday.

Understandably, Simpson will take Dec. 17 off from work. It's been a tremendous trip and he admits it will feel strange when it ends.

"One, I'm going to go through withdrawals," Simpson said. "I'll be like, 'Oh my God, I'm not going anywhere for a while.' Second, everything's going to seem easy. I write down every goal in the League every night, and I match the highlights and describe them because that's one of my roles. That's going to seem easy."

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