BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When the Birmingham Bulls take the ice this season a new, yet familiar face will be behind the bench for the Birmingham Bulls. The only captain of the SPHL era of the Bulls, Craig Simchuk is retiring as a player and joining Head Coach Jamey Hicks’ coaching staff.
The move puts a cap on a five-year professional playing career. In five seasons, all in the SPHL, Simchuk played in 238 games, scored 46 goals and earned 305 penalty minutes. Known by his fans and teammates as “Simmer” he was a known force throughout the league.
When asked about making the move from player to assistant coach, Simchuk had this to say:
“I am very excited to rejoin the Bulls organization in this new role. I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to transition to a career that allows me to continue working in the sport I love.
“Thank you to all the fans for your love and support, looking forward to season three!”
Simchuk becomes the latest former SPHL player to take an assistant coaching role. Other former players-turned-assistants currently include Pensacola’s Jeremy Gates, Huntsville’s Stuart Stefan, Fayetteville’s Cory Melkert, and Macon’s Ryan Michel.
An excited Hicks said about his new assistant:
“(I) Couldn’t be more excited adding Craig to our coaching staff. As a player, he was a fierce competitor that led by example.
“We are looking forward to seeing the same passion as he starts his coaching career.”
As part of the moves within the team, Assistant Coach Craig Lutes will move to more of an administrative role. Lutes will stay with the team in the hockey operations department, but in a more limited position as his job outside of hockey allows.
This move is just one of multiple moves made by the Birmingham Bulls during the off-season. On June 3, it was announced Art Clarkson was stepping down as managing partner of the franchise. Replacing the man which many have deemed “The PT Barnum of Minor League Sports” is former Bulls VP of Operations Joe Stroud.
Hicks got a two-year extension as head coach of the Bulls on June 27. The reigning SPHL MVP Josh Harris announced he’s returning for a third season in Birmingham. At the time of this article, Harris is the only on-ice captain the Bulls have returning.
The Birmingham Bulls open the season October 18th against their in-state rival and back-to-back President’s Cup champion Huntsville Havoc at the Pelham Civic Complex.
Special thanks to David Koonce, the Bulls Vice President of Communications for helping with the information for this announcement.
Follow Ronald Hagood, Jr. on Twitter at @SinBinBulls