Who says you can’t go home again? Former Birmingham Bulls player Jamey Hicks has returned to the metro area as coach of the reborn Birmingham Bulls.
Hicks’ hiring was announced at a press conference today at the Pelham Civic Complex, the new home of the Bulls.
“I don’t think you ever want to look back,” Hicks said. “You look back at the fond memories and you move forward right away. I think it’s important that we don’t forget where we came from. The guys from the WHA (World Hockey Association) from the ’70s and the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) from the ’90s paved the way, and I have the support of those guys who showed up this afternoon with this press conference.”
General partner Art Clarkson, who engineered the return of pro hockey to the area, said that Hicks brings a link to the Bulls of old.
“I like the continuity,” Clarkson said. “I like the tradition and I like the history, unlike people who are trying to reinvent the wheel, using a different name and everything else.
“The response is great,” he continued. “The Bulls are back and there’s the continuity, there’s the connection. I think he’s going to do a hell of a job. He’s going to have the support of the community, the former players who live here, our front office, the whole thing. It’s almost like a family effect.”
Craig Lutes, another former Bulls player, echoed that sentiment.
“I think it’s a great way to bridge that gap that we’ve had to go through with not having hockey in the area, getting a familiar face back, somebody people in the area know,” he said. “That’s going to get a lot of us ex-players to come back around and help support in whatever way we can. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Hicks is a former captain of the team in 1997-98. He was a most valuable player in the East Coast Hockey League and a 100-point producer.
But he also contributed off the ice.
“When he was here before, he was a great asset to us in the community,” Clarkson said. “He’ll do a lot of things for the community too. Even with a 17-year lapse, we’re trying to keep the continuity and bring the continuity that we had established back in the ’90s back.”
Hicks said the challenge of rebuilding the operation is what drew him to the job. He said they need everything from skate sharpeners to players. The latter need will be filled when the Southern Professional Hockey League conducts an expansion draft.
“It’s just very exciting to be back,” the new coach said. “We always considered this a second home. It’s not going to be hard to move back here with all the great friends that we do have. And we look forward to making new ones.”