Less than a week ago, Todd Nelson left the Grand Rapids Griffins to become an assistant coach for the Dallas Stars. Many fans were left wondering and guessing who would be taking the reigns as the new Griffins coach.
The organization did not have to look very far as they named Ben Simon as the 11th Head Coach in team history. Simon was an assistant coach under Nelson over the past three seasons. Simon was a member of the Griffins as a player during the 2006-2007 season where he tallied nine points (4-5-9). He is the third former Griffins player to be named head coach. Current Michigan State coach Danton Cole coached from 2005-2008 and Nelson coached from 2015-2018.
Simon has been an assistant coach in the AHL for six seasons. He began in Rockford in 2011 before joining Toronto in 2014. He joined up with Todd Nelson when he was named the head coach before the 2015-2016 season. Simon spent a season as a head coach during the 2013-2014 season in the ECHL as he coached the Cincinnati Cyclones to the Kelly Cup Finals. The Cyclones fell to the Alaska Aces in six games.
Simon’s coaching career began with dual roles as a player/coach of the Elite Ice Hockey League’s Sheffield Steelers during the 2010-2011 season. He led Sheffield to a 43-10-0-1 record and helped the team win the regular season title.
He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 1997 Draft. He appeared in 81 career NHL games in parts with Atlanta and Columbus, scoring four points (3-1-4).
Simon has played in 762 regular season pro games from 2000-11. 481 of those contests were in the AHL where he collected 297 points (119-178—297) and 771 penalty minutes. He was a part of back to back league titles, helping the Orlando Solar Bears win the IHL’s Turner Cup in 2001 before winning the Calder Cup with the Chicago Wolves in 2002.
He was also returned to the Calder Cup in 2005 with the Wolves. Simon has made it to a league championship series five times as a player or coach and won three titles.
Before his pro days, Simon played his Collegiate Hockey for Notre Dame from 1996-2000. He was named Captain during his Senior season and was named to the first All-Decade team for 1990-2000.