BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham Bulls have announced a changing of head coaches for the 2020-21 season. Former Bulls captain and 2019-20 assistant coach, Craig Simchuk, becomes the second head coach for Birmingham in the SPHL era. Simchuk spent five seasons in the SPHL as a player, before his retirement at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Simchuk will have some rather large shoes to fill as he takes the next step in his coaching career. Jamey Hicks has been the only coach in the SPHL iteration of the Birmingham Bulls and in the three seasons behind the Bulls bench, left his mark in the league. After struggling as an expansion squad in the 2017-18 season, Hicks guided the Bulls to a tie for the largest single-season turnaround in points. Birmingham went from a 22-28-5 and 50 points to 39-15-2 and 80 points and playing for an SPHL championship.
Hicks is stepping away as head coach, but will remain with the team as a consultant while dealing with a family matter in his native Canada, according a statement released by the team.
“Craig was being groomed for this job,” Hicks said. “A lot of great coaches go from being a captain, then training as an assistant, and then taking the step to be the head guy.”
The Bulls new head coach is eager to take on the new role.
“Jamey has been a tremendous mentor both on and off the ice. He’s taught me more about the game of hockey and life than I can ever thank him for,” Simchuk said “I hope to follow in his footsteps and continue what he has started here.”
Josh Harris, the Bulls captain in 2018-19, is excited to see Simchuk get the opportunity.
“Craig is a good guy who deserves the job,” Harris said. “After learning for a season under ‘Hicksy’, I believe he’ll do a great with taking those skills and what he already knows about the game to point this team in a positive direction.”
The move comes at a time where the SPHL season has been delayed by COVID-19 which also abruptly ended the 2019-20 season. In early October, the SPHL announced a shortened 2020-21 season with only half the league’s teams opting to participate this season. Birmingham along with Huntsville, Knoxville, Macon, and Pensacola will play a 42-game season scheduled to begin on Saturday, December 26. Simchuk’s Bulls will open the season with a home tilt against the Pensacola Ice Flyers on December 26, with puck drop scheduled for 7 PM.
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