With Gord Dineen being promoted to head coach and Derek King becoming an associate, the Toronto Marlies needed a third man to stand behind the bench. Today, they’ve announced that they’ve found that man, hiring Ben Simon.
Simon is fresh blood in the coaching world, having just began his transition from playing to coaching four seasons ago. He did so in a way that doesn’t happen very often anymore; he became a player coach. In this case, it was for the Sheffield Steelers of the EIHL. He did a heck of a job in the role, scoring 57 points in 54 games while leading his team to a 43-10-1 record and a League championship.
Prior to that, Simon’s career saw him bounce through the ranks, having played in the NAHL for the Cleveland Barons, the NCAA with Notre Dame, the IHL with the original variation of the Orlando Solar Bears, the AHL with Chicago, Milwaukee, Syracuse, Grand Rapids, Springfield, and the Marlies, and in the NHL with Atlanta and Columbus. Simon wasn’t the most productive player in North America, mostly taking on a checking centre role. He had 4 points in 81 NHL games.
After Sheffield, Simon took an assistant’s role with the Rockford Icehogs for two years, working with Ted Dent (who was previously rumoured as a finalist for a role with the Leafs). From there, he headed down to the ECHL for his first full-on head coaching job. Simon and his Cincinnati Cyclones more than answered the bell, finishing the season with a 41-23-8 record, eliminating the Solar Bears, Fort Wayne Komets, and Greenville Road Warriors in six games, before losing a six game series of their own in the Kelly Cup Finals.
Simon brings a blend of recent playing experience, understanding of both the AHL and ECHL levels, and previous playing experience with the teams that he’ll have to deal with. He also brings youth to the bench; while Dineen (51) and King (47) aren’t exactly seniors, the 36 year old Simon is still younger than some of the players he’ll be coaching against.