Craig Simchuk has been named the second head coach of the Birmingham Bulls during the Southern Professional Hockey League era.
Simchuk, 31, captained the Bulls during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, then retired and served as an assistant coach with the organization last season.
He succeeds Jamey Hicks, who will remain with the Bulls as a team consultant while dealing with a family matter in his native Canada.
“Jamey has been a tremendous mentor both on and off the ice,” Simchuk said. “He’s taught me more about the game of hockey and life than I can ever thank him for. I hope to follow in his footsteps and continue what he has started here.”
Hicks lobbied for Simchuk to fill the head-coaching role he held for the past three seasons.
“Craig was being groomed for this job,” said Hicks, the SPHL’s 2018-19 Coach of the Year. “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. I think everyone knows how I feel. It hurts not being there, but seeing Craig take over is very exciting for me, and to see where he takes this team.”
A lefty-shooting forward, Simchuk played a combined five professional seasons in the SPHL. He tallied 46 goals and 75 assists in 238 career games with the Columbus Cottonmouths and Bulls.
A legendary center during the organization’s East Coast Hockey League days, Hicks helped preside over the reincarnation of the club for the 2017-18 season. He produced a 78-66-12 record in three seasons at the helm and led the Bulls to the SPHL finals in only Year 2 in the league.
The Bulls open their 2020-21 season on Saturday, Dec. 26, at 7 p.m. against the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Pelham Civic Complex. For ticket information, call the Bulls office at (205) 620-6870.