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)

Birmingham Bulls
CityBirmingham, Alabama
LeagueAtlantic Coast Hockey League
Home arenaBirmingham-Jefferson Civic Center
Owner(s)Mike McClure
General managerJim Troy
Head coachDavid 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.[1]

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."[1] On September 12, 1983, Hanson was announced as the Bulls' head coach.[2]

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.[2] 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,[3] 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.[2]

The Birmingham Bulls' name would remain dormant until 1992, when another franchise by the same name would join the East Coast Hockey League (now ECHL).


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
Paul O'Neil




5th round

5th round
67th overall

61st overall
Vancouver Canucks

Houston Aeros
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

Gilles Bilodeau

Left Wing



9th round

121st overall

Toronto Toros

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
Paul Evans

Right Wing

9th round
13th round
149th overall
162nd overall
Toronto Maple Leafs
Indianapolis Racers
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
Jim Turkiewicz


1st round
5th round
12th overall
134th overall
Toronto Toros
Montreal Canadiens
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[4]

Dave Hanson




4th round

59th overall

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.



Regular seasonEdit

  • 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

Preceded by
Birmingham South Stars
Pro Hockey in Birmingham
Succeeded by
Birmingham Bulls (ECHL)


  1. ^ a b "Birmingham Bulls: Team and League History". Birmingham Pro Sports. Retrieved April 8, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c 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.
  3. ^ Drew Crossley. "1982-83 Birmingham South Stars".
  4. ^ Ron Turkiewicz's statistics at
  5. ^ a b Games

External linksEdit