CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cyclones head coach Ben Simon is leaving Cincinnati to coach as an assistant in the American Hockey League.
Simon, who led the Cyclones to the Kelly Cup finals his one and only season in Cincinnati, will join the Toronto Marlies organization in the AHL – hockey's top minor league.
"It (Toronto Marlies) is an affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs…it's the Toronto Maple Leafs," Simon joked by phone. "Around here, people ask me about it and I always correlate it to if you play Little League baseball and you have a chance to work for the Yankees. It's the mecca of our sport."
It's Simon's second stint in the AHL. Prior to joining the Cyclones he spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Rockford IceHogs. Simon said the biggest difference in the move from the AHL to working in the ECHL was the amount of responsibility on the head coach, especially, considering the Cyclones double affiliation to both Nashville and Florida.
"In the ECHL you're dealing with a lot of things that aren't actual hockey. You're a head coach, a friend, a mentor, a scheduler, an immigration officer, a hotel planner. It was crazy, but, at the same time, that was a huge, huge, huge learning experience for me. I learned a ton about hockey's business side of things, but this is an opportunity career wise in terms of hockey that was too good to pass up."
Simon led the Cyclones to the organization's third Eastern Conference Championship – becoming just the second head coach in ECHL history to reach the Kelly Cup finals in their first season.