The school years were busy times for young Joe "Bullet" Simpson, last-born son in the Simpson clan. Skating and hockey filled most of his spare time for close to six months of the year while growing up in the Canadian west. "We started to play hockey about as soon as we could walk in those days. The hockey I know was started by skating on the slough which was just down from our house where I was born. In those days there were only two schools in Selkirk, public school and high school. The boys living in the North end were the North team and south of Manitoba Avenue was the South team."
A graduate of the Selkirk Fishermen juniors, Simpson played senior hockey with the Winnipeg Victorias in 1914-15, prior to enlisting in the Canadian army for World War I. Before he was sent overseas he captained the 1916 Allan Cup champions 61st Battalion team of Winnipeg.
During the war, he served with the 43rd Cameron Highlanders and his unit held a part of the British front alongside a battalion commanded by Major Winston Churchill. Simpson was twice wounded in the war and was awarded the Military Medal for valour prior to returning home in February of 1919, discharged as a lieutenant. In fact, he was home in time to appear in the last four games of the hockey season for the hometown Selkirk Fisherman seniors of the Manitoba Senior League and starred again for the seniors the following year.
Simpson was in a Winnipeg poolroom in 1920 when Kenny Mackenzie of the Big-4s Edmonton Eskimos offered him $3,000 to turn pro. Upon hearing the offer, Simpson chalked his cue and replied that if Mackenzie could sell the deal to his father then Edmonton would have themselves a hockey player. Edmonton got their player and Joe headed off to the northern Alberta city in time for, what turned out to be, a disappointing 1920-21 season.
He made amends for a poor showing in his rookie year by winning a Western Hockey League First Team All-Star berth in 1921-22. He was named to the First Team on three occasions and to the Second Team once. At the time, "Newsy" Lalonde called Simpson the greatest living hockey player.
When the WHL ceased operations at the end of the 1924-25 campaign Simpson's contract was purchased by the New York Americans of the NHL. Simpson played six seasons with the Amerks before turning his attention to minor league coaching for a few seasons.
"Bullet" Joe Simpson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.