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AHL pushes pause on season when Griffins were 'starting to click'
The Grand Rapids Griffins were playing some of their best hockey of the regular season. (Detroit News)
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Ben Simon, who was named by the Detroit Red Wings as the 11th head coach in Griffins franchise history on June 5, 2018, begins his fifth season with Grand Rapids and his second as head coach. He served the first three seasons as an assistant under Todd Nelson, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
The 41-year-old Simon guided the Griffins to their franchise-record seventh consecutive playoff appearance during the 2018-19 season by posting a 38-27-7-4 mark (0.572), and he played an integral role in helping the club win its second Calder Cup in 2017. During Simon’s first four seasons as a coach in Grand Rapids, the Griffins compiled cumulative records of 171-105-11-17 (0.609) in the regular season and 24-14 (0.632) in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Appearing in 21 games and scoring nine points (4-5—9) with the Griffins in 2006-07 as part of an 11-year professional playing career, Simon is the third former Griffins player to serve as Grand Rapids’ head coach, joining Nelson (2015-18) and Danton Cole (2002-05).
In six seasons as an AHL assistant coach, Simon showed a 250-168-17-21 (0.590) regular season record between Rockford (2011-13), Toronto (2014-15) and Grand Rapids. He aided in his respective teams qualifying for the Calder Cup Playoffs in four campaigns and tallied a 24-14 (0.632) postseason ledger.
Prior to joining the Griffins, Simon was as an assistant coach and helped the Toronto Marlies reach the postseason in 2014-15 by placing second in the North Division with a 40-27-9-0 (0.586) regular season mark.
In his first stint as a professional head coach in North America in 2013-14, Simon became the second head coach in ECHL history to reach the Kelly Cup Finals in his initial season, as he guided the Cincinnati Cyclones to a 41-23-4-4 (0.625) regular season record – the fifth-best mark in the Eastern Conference – before falling in six games to the Alaska Aces.
Simon spent two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant with the Rockford IceHogs and totaled a 77-63-4-8 (0.532) record, which included a seven-win improvement in the second year.
Simon began his coaching career as a player/head coach of the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Sheffield Steelers in 2010-11. Competing in the United Kingdom’s top league, he led Sheffield to a 43-10-0-1 record (0.806) and helped the club capture the regular season championship.
A fifth-round draft selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Simon logged 81 career games in the NHL between Atlanta (2001-04) and Columbus (2005-06) and tallied four points (3-1—4). In total, Simon appeared in 762 regular season pro games from 2000-11 – which included 481 AHL contests – and recorded 297 points (119-178—297) and 771 penalty minutes from his forward position. In 84 postseason appearances, he added 28 points (14-14—28) and 131 PIM. Simon claimed consecutive league championships, as he helped the Orlando Solar Bears win the IHL’s Turner Cup in 2001 before hoisting the Calder Cup with the Chicago Wolves in 2002.
Including a second trip to the Calder Cup Finals with Chicago in 2005, Simon has advanced to a professional league championship series a combined five times as a player or coach and won three titles.
Prior to his pro career, Simon played four seasons at Notre Dame (1996-2000), where he posted 130 points (44-86—130) in 144 games. He served as captain his senior season and was later named to Notre Dame’s All-Decade First Team for 1990-2000.
A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Simon represented Team USA at both the 1997 and 1998 World Junior Championships, earning a silver medal in 1997.
Simon and his wife, Beth, have two daughters, Margaret and Katherine.
|Simon's Coaching Record||Regular season||Playoffs|
|2015-16||Grand Rapids||AHL||Asst. Coach||76||44||30||1||1||0.592||9||5||4||0.556|
|2016-17||*Grand Rapids||AHL||Asst. Coach||76||47||23||1||5||0.658||19||15||4||0.789|
|2017-18||Grand Rapids||AHL||Asst. Coach||76||42||25||2||7||0.612||5||2||3||0.400|
|2018-19||Grand Rapids||AHL||Head Coach||76||38||27||7||4||0.572||5||2||3||0.400|
|GRIFFINS/AHL HEAD COACHING TOTALS||76|
|HEAD COACHING TOTALS||202||122||60||11||9||0.653||32||17||15||0.531|
*Won Calder Cup