The Toronto Marlies are undergoing a renovation. And it looks a lot like a homecoming.
After losing the highly touted Steve Spott to the Maple Leafs coaching staff this off-season, the Toronto Marlies have acted quickly to fill their coaching vacancies. Derek King, a former Leafs winger from 1997 to 2000, was promoted to associate coach. His promotion coincided with Gord Dineen‘s (a Toronto native, though never a Leaf) ascension to head coach of the Marlies.
Simon’s connection to Toronto is in line with other moves made by Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas so far. In the past week, Dubas has signed Patrick Watling and Brett Findlay (both former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds). These familiar faces will play for coaches who each have Toronto connections. In one way or another, Dubas seems most comfortable reaching out to players and staff that he knows personally or who connected to the local area.
But Ben Simon’s hiring is about more that just his connection to the city.
In his first head coaching gig four years ago, Simon piloted the Sheffield Steelers to 43-10 record in the Elite Ice Hockey League as a player/coach. Sure, not exactly AHL-level hockey, but a good start to his coaching career. After two winning seasons in the AHL as assistant coach for the Rockford Ice Hogs, Simon guided the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones to a 41-23-8 record, losing in the league’s finals.
And he’s only 36 years old.
Look for Simon as he rapidly ascends the coaching ranks. At the speed his coaching career is moving, it may not be long before this rising star is perched beside new head coach Steve Spott behind the bench for the Leafs.
What do you think, Leafs fans? Will Ben Simon make it to the NHL and coach for the Leafs one day?