Updated 7x at 3:17 PM: The Grand Rapids Griffins have named Ben Simon their head coach, per WOOD TV’s Larry Figurski.
The Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner confirms:
The Grand Rapids Griffins hired from within Tuesday, selecting Ben Simon to take over from Todd Nelson as the 11th coach of the AHL franchise.
Simon has been the Griffins’ assistant the past three seasons and was also a member of the team in 2006-07.
The 39-year-old was introduced as a press conference at Van Andel following a quick search by the organization. Nelson officially left the team Thursday to become an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars.
The Griffins also confirm:
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) June 5, 2018
Here’s the Griffins’ press release:
BEN SIMON NAMED HEAD COACH OF GRIFFINS
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday named Ben Simon the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Simon becomes the 11th head coach in franchise history after serving the last three seasons as an assistant in Grand Rapids under Todd Nelson. The Dallas Stars hired Nelson as an assistant coach last week.
The 39-year-old Simon played an integral role in helping the Griffins win the club’s second Calder Cup in 2017 and post the third-most regular season wins in the AHL since 2015-16 with a 133-78-4-13 (0.621) record. Grand Rapids reached the Calder Cup Playoffs during each of the last three seasons and tallied the second-most postseason victories on the circuit (22-11 record) since 2016.
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 after 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.
Update #2: On Twitter:
Ben Simon announced as Grand Rapids Griffins head coach, takes over for Todd Nelson (who left to take assistant coach job with Dallas Stars). Simon was assistant under Nelson last three seasons. #RedWings
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) June 5, 2018
Grand Rapids has named Ben Simon as its new coach. Simon was an assistant coach in GR.
Walleye coach Dan Watson had expressed interest in the position. https://t.co/5I7neRGu3A
— Mark Monroe (@MonroeBlade) June 5, 2018
Ryan Martin introduces Coach Ben Simon. 👏 pic.twitter.com/hn8udj742r
— Grand Rapids Griffins (@griffinshockey) June 5, 2018
Update #3: The Griffins posted a clip of the press conference:
Detroit Red Wings executives never interviewed anyone other than Ben Simon to be the next coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.
A combination of what the Griffins assistant coach had done previously, what he presented in an interview nearly two weeks ago along with growing concern they could lose him elsewhere were enough to convince general manager Ken Holland and Ryan Martin, the assistant GM who oversees the Griffins.
All that was fine by Simon.
“Ultimately, this is where I really wanted to be,” he said Tuesday after being named the 11th coach of the Griffins and successor to Todd Nelson.
Simon, 39, was given a three-year contract. Assistant coach Mike Knuble is expected to remain on staff, while assistant coach Bruce Ramsay will not be retained.
Simon agreed to become coach over the weekend and signed his contract Monday to cap what was whirlwind month that began in earnest once the Griffins were eliminated from the playoff May 1.
Update #7: Here’s Fox 17’s clip: