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The Daily: Griffins Coach Ben Simon Pays Homage to Jeff Blashill

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Ben Simon, Grand Rapids Griffins
Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said he is pleased with the development job coach Ben Simon and his staff are doing in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon said former NHL coach Gene Ubriaco used to say that hockey “was a great game, and a crappy business.”

Only Ubriaco used a stronger word than crappy.

Simon thought about that saying when he heard Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was fired.

“I learned a lot about coaching from Jeff just throughout the years,” Simon said. “What I learned that’s way more important is just how he treated people. He’s a fantastic human being. He treats people – whether you’re the janitor, whether you’re the head coach of another NHL team coming in, whether you’re a minor league coach – he treats you with the utmost respect, makes you feel like you belong.”

Simon said he couldn’t thank Blashill enough for being so “inclusive of me and my staff when I was an assistant in Grand Rapids, when I was the head coach in Grand Rapids.”

“He’s had a lot of success at every level that he’s been at,” Simon said. “I got a lot of time for Jeff and a lot of appreciation for what he’s done for me and my career, my family, and I have no doubt that he’s going to land on his feet. Him and  (wife) Erica and the kids are just fantastic people.”

The Grand Rapids Griffins didn’t qualify for the playoffs this season. But earlier this week, Yzerman said Simon and his staff would be retained.

“I’m pleased with the coaching staff in Grand Rapids,” Yzerman said. “Maybe even more so in the American League than the NHL, it’s been really challenging to run a program with the taxi squads and COVID restrictions and things like that, travel restrictions. Ben and his staff in GR have done a fantastic job. I’m really happy with that, and I don’t foresee any changes there.”

Simon said he didn’t know that Yzerman had given him a vote of confidence, although he had talked Red Wings assistant general manager Shawn Horcoff.

“It’s good to hear they are  happy with the development that’s on down here but you can’t get complacent,” Simon said. “As soon as you get complacent down here or anywhere, that’s when people pass you by. You don’t want people passing you by.”

Simon declined to be specific about whether he is applying for the Red Wings’ coaching job.

“Anytime there’s a job opening at the NHL level and you feel like you’re ready for it, you’re going to show interest in it,” Simon said. “It’s in organization. Honestly, I haven’t talked to Steve at all about that. Those are conversations I’ll keep private and keep between me and him and go from there

In Case You Missed It

Detroit Red Wings prospect Theodor Niederbach made it official by signing to play in Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League next season. William Wallinder played for Rogle this season and Moritz Seider played there before coming to Detroit.

Captain Dylan Larkin said he is optimistic that he can reach an agreement on a contract extension this summer. He is a Michigan native.

Lucas Raymond’s agent and family explained why he is not going to play for Sweden in the World Championships this month.

Red Wings Prospect Report

Defenseman Albert Johansson (Drafted 60th in 2019) drew the first assist on a tying goal for Farjestad in Game 3 of the Swedish Hockey League Final. But Lulea ended up winning the game 5-4 in overtime.  Pontus Andreasson, who the Red Wings are signing, plays for Lulea. Johansson has played three full seasons in the SHL. He is expected to be with the Red Wings or Grand Rapids Griffins next season.

Hockey Now Network

Boston: When you lose Game 1 of a playoff series, you react. The Boston Bruins are shaking up their defensive pairings for Game 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Calgary: Old time hockey in Calgary? Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson and Dallas D man John Klingberg were both ejected for a secondary fight after another fight. The alteration came during a Flames’ 1-0 win.

Colorado: Avalanche coach Jared Bednar pushed all the right buttons in Colorado’s 7-2 Game 1 win against the Nashville Predators.

Florida:  The largest crowd to watch a Florida Panthers playoff game in years showed up. But fans left disappointed as the Washington Capitals downed the home team 4-2.

Philadelphia: Mike Yeo is out as Philadelphia Flyers’ coach. Hockey Now’s Sam Carchidi provides the detail.

Pittsburgh: Goalie Louis Domingue ends up as an unlikely hero of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ triple-overtime win against the New York Rangers.

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