By @MichaelCaples –
It didn’t take long for the Griffins to find a new head coach.
The new bench boss won’t have trouble finding his way around Van Andel Arena, either.
Today, Ben Simon was named the 11th head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
His promotion from assistant coach comes just five days after Grand Rapids announced that Todd Nelson was leaving to join the Dallas Stars’ staff.
Nelson served at the helm of the Griffins’ coaching staff for three seasons; Simon was alongside him for the duration. They, along with Bruce Ramsay and Mike Knuble, led Grand Rapids to a 2017 Calder Cup title. All four are Griffins alums – Simon played 21 games with the Griffins in 2006-07.
A native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Simon played for the Cleveland Barons of the NAHL before four seasons with the Notre Dame during the Fighting Irish’s CCHA days. He served as captain of the ND squad during his senior season of 1999-2000.
From there, Simon assembled an 11-year professional career. Originally a fifth-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, Simon ended up playing in a total of 81 NHL games with the Atlanta Thrashers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
His coaching career began in a Reggie Dunlop style; he led the Sheffield Steelers to an Elite Ice Hockey League championship in England in 2010-11 as both a player and the team’s head coach. From there he spent two years as an assistant coach with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL from 2011-13, then one year as the head coach of the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL in 2013-14.
After one year as an assistant coach with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, he joined Todd Nelson’s new staff in Grand Rapids.