Season Recap: Dillon SimpsonJun 29, 2020
Veteran defenseman Dillon Simpson’s second year with the Cleveland Monsters was not only one of the best in his career on the ice but included other high notes like being named one of the 2019-20 alternate captains.
Falling into a natural leadership position, Simpson stood out to first-year Monsters Head Coach Mike Eaves for his understanding and knowledge of the game.
“When I am on the bench during the game, I listen to the jibber jabber of the guys. Early on, I noticed I was hearing this voice giving feedback to the defenseman about what is going on and what needs to be done and it was not the coaching staff – it was Simpson,” said Eaves. “He sees the game like a coach. He breaks down the game, knows what is going on and he knows what needs to be done.”
Having that extra boost of leadership in the locker room was something Eaves leaned on to help when regrouping in between the periods. Whether it was providing his own thoughts or breaking down the game to explain more in depth, Simpson was a player that Eaves could depend on to get the message across.
“[Simpson] has got that quiet leadership and coach’s understanding of the game that he can share with his teammates, so I love that,” said Eaves. “I knew Simpson was in [the locker room] in his own pointed way giving his reinforcement or tweaking what we said so the boys will understand it better.”
Simpson took his lessons onto the ice moving his game a step further and cementing his spot as an offensive defenseman on the team. The Edmonton, AB, native led all Cleveland defensemen in goals (9) and was second in assists (14) and points (23).
In addition to hitting career highs in goals and points this season, Simpson had three multi-point games recording a personal-best three points each time.
Simpson’s best night of the season came when the Monsters hosted the Toronto Marlies on January 24th following his third multi-point game. In addition to tallying two goals for the second time in his career, his performance contained his 100th point in the American Hockey League after he assisted on the Monsters fourth goal.
While Simpson’s offensive presence was impressive, Eaves valued the little moves he made by the blue line just as much. With Eaves noting his game as truly professional, Simpson was known for closing the space on the blue line and forcing his opponents to be stifled in the neutral zone. Additionally, he used his size to not only guard the blue line but was also well known to block shots.
After such a well-rounded, strong season from the veteran, Eaves expects to see nothing less than Simpson continuing to thrive and move forward.
“[Our staff] tries to help get him another half a step quicker, and I think he will get that,” said Eaves. “He has the brain and understanding to get to the next level and be successful. If work between him and us can get him that extra half a step, I think he has the greatest chance to play at the highest level because of those six inches between his ears.”