In reality he was more than a tough guy. While he had little offensive upside, he was good at clearing the crease and was a good guy to have in your dressing room and bench. He knew his role, and played it well enough to earn a late season call up with the Vancouver Canucks in 1990-91.
Don was considered to be a fairly good prospect coming out of Michigan State. He averaged over 100 PIM a year in his 4 year collegiate career - which is almost unheard of in the less violent college atmosphere. The Canucks had initially drafted Gibson back in 1986 49th overall.
In his first pro year Gibson battled some major injury problems. He played in only 21 games with the Canucks farm team, where he was assigned to learn the pro game and to work on his skating and positioning. With the Canucks out of the playoff race early in 1990-91, they called him up late in the year and he played in 14 games. Gibson held his own in those 14 games, and left many Canuck fans hopeful that this large d-man could step in the following year and help toughen up the Canucks small blueline corps.
Gibson was never to be heard from again. He spent most of the 1991-92 season on the injured reserve list and played in the IHL the rest of the time. He remained relatively healthy for the 1992-93 season but by that time the 'Nucks depth on blueline had improved and Gibson was left to fight for recognition on the farm team. And fight he did, earning 361 PIM! He clearly had the role of enforcer that season.
Gibson played one more injury riddled season with the Canucks farm team in 1993-94. Following the season Gibson's contract expired and the Canucks did not renew interest in him. No other team gave Gibson an offer that was to his liking either, so Gibson decided to hang up his skates and rest his badly banged up body.