Birmingham Bulls (ACHL)
The Birmingham Bulls was a professional ice hockey team based in Birmingham, Alabama that briefly played in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League (ACHL) in October 1983. Their home ice was the former Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center (now Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex) (BJCC)
|League||Atlantic Coast Hockey League|
|Home arena||Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center|
|General manager||Jim Troy|
|Head coach||David Hanson|
On July 28, 1983, Owner and Team President Mike McClure made the announcement that the team was joining the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. The team was looking to use the South Stars name, but on August 13, 1983 an announcement was made that they lost the rights to the name. Instead, McClure opted to use the Birmingham Bulls name.
Before the team took the ice, McClure admitted that "the future of the Bulls depends on the rental contract that they received from the BJCC." BJCC Director Casey Jones estimated that ice making would cost approximately $400 per day". and that "it's an expensive procedure, but we want hockey."
Dave Hanson had previously played with the Bulls while they were part of the World Hockey Association (WHA) (1977–79) and the Central Hockey League (CHL) (1979–80). Going into the 1983-84 season, Hanson had expected to go to training camp with the New York Islanders with the plan of eventually being assigned to the Indianapolis Checkers. But after Checkers' head coach Fred Creighton did not return any calls and the season soon approaching, Hanson was starting to question his options. Creighton told Hanson that there weren't any available possibilities in the Islanders' organization because General Manager Bill Torrey had assigned a group of newer players to Indianapolis and he was not willing to make any changes for Hanson. Creighton told Hanson to go to Birmingham, stay in shape and be ready in the event of a recall. In the meantime, team owner Mike McClure (who Hanson knew from his time with the WHA Birmingham Bulls) contacted Hanson and inquired if he would be interested in coaching his new ACHL franchise. Hanson said that "he was looking to get into coaching" and former Bulls' coach Glen Sonmor said that Carlson "had a good character for it." On September 12, 1983, Hanson was announced as the Bulls' head coach.
Eviction and foldingEdit
On October 14, while the team was playing their first preseason game in Nashville, they were evicted from the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex as a result of being unable to pay the $50,000 rental fee they owed. Despite owing money, the Bulls moved forward and had scheduled to play their season opener. The deadline was extended by a week. At one point, the team had an anonymous donor who was willing to pay the $50,000 that was owed to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. On October 25, 1983, the donor withdrew their money and the Bulls were unable to provide the money owed to BJCC.
Several attempts were made to secure funding after the anonymous donor withdrew their commitment due to a local newspaper writing a critical article that was directed at the team's phantom owner. Birmingham Stallions owner Marvin Warner and actor Paul Newman, who Carlson had worked with in the movie Slap Shot were contacted for financing, but calls were not returned.
On October 28, 1983, as a result of ownership never paying the ACHL franchise fee along with the arena deposit, the ACHL suspended operations of the Birmingham Bulls. Their final regular season record was two victories and one loss. Coach Hanson resumed his playing career, joining the Toledo Goaldiggers. The remaining players were dispersed throughout the ACHL.
Several Bulls' players were former NHL and WHA draft picks and/or have played in their respective leagues.
|Player||Position||Year||League Drafted||Round||Selection||Drafted by||NHL/WHA Teams Played For||GP||Scoring||Additional notes|
|Vancouver Canucks (NHL) (1973–74)
Boston Bruins (NHL) (1975–76)
Birmingham Bulls (WHA) (1978–79)
|0G 0A 0PTS
0G 0A 0PTS
0G 0A 0PTS
|Finished 1983-84 ACHL season with Virginia Lancers
||Toronto Toros (WHA) (1975–76)
Birmingham Bulls (WHA) (1976–78)
Quebec Nordiques (WHA) (1978–79)
Quebec Nordiques (NHL) (1979–80)
|0G 1A 1PTS
4G 8A 12PTS
3G 6A 9PTS
0G 1A 1PTS
|Toronto Maple Leafs
|Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) (1976–78)
||1G 1A 2PTS
|Paul Joswiak||Goalie||1978||NHL||9th round||152nd overall||New York Islanders||--||--||--||Finished 1983-84 ACHL season with Virginia Lancers|
|Darre Switzer||Left Wing||1978||NHL||8th round||134th overall||Philadelphia Flyers||--||--||--||Finished 1983-84 ACHL season with Carolina Thunderbirds|
|Toronto Toros (WHA) (1974–76)
Birmingham Bulls (WHA) (1976–79)
|13G 56A 69PTS
12G 63A 75PTS
|Jim's brother Ron also played on the Bulls as a right winger
||Minnesota Fighting Saints
||Minnesota Fighting Saints (WHA) (1976–77)
New England Whalers (WHA) (1976–77)
Birmingham Bulls (WHA) (1977–79)
Detroit Red Wings (NHL) (1978–79)
Minnesota North Stars (NHL) (1979–80)
|0G 2A 2PTS
0G 0A 0PTS
7G 16A 23PTS
0G 0A 0PTS
1G 1A 2PTS
|Hanson previously won championships as a player with the Johnstown Jets (Lockhart Cup, 1975–76) and an Adams Cup|
with the Indianapolis Checkers the season before he assumed the role of head coach with the Bulls.
Hanson was also well-known for his role as Jack Hanson in the movie Slap Shot.
The Bulls are the only team that Hanson ever coached professionally.
- 10/22/1983 @ Nashville South Stars, 2-5 (Loss)
- 10/25/1983 vs Mohawk Valley Stars, 8-0 (Win)
- 10/27/1983 vs Mohawk Valley Stars 7-3 (Win)
10/28/1983 - Birmingham Bulls franchise folds
- "Birmingham Bulls: Team and League History". Birmingham Pro Sports. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
- Hanson, Dave (April 8, 2020). Slap Shot Original: The Man, the Foil, and the Legend. Triumph Books. pp. 163–165. ISBN 978-1-60078-875-8.
- Drew Crossley. "1982-83 Birmingham South Stars". funwhileitlasted.net.
- Ron Turkiewicz's statistics at hockeydb.com
- BirminghamProSports.com: Games
- Birmingham Bulls at HockeyDB.com