Quick Q&A with new Thunderbirds GM, Jimmy Milliken

Photo Courtesy of the Carolina Thunderbrids.

The FHL world was given a massive shakeup yesterday, when the news broke around 5pm EST that Carolina Thunderbirds President and General Manager, Scott Brand, had stepped down from his role to pursue other options.

Well, the team also announced that former SPHL Assistant GM and three-year FHL expansion committee member Jimmy Milliken was stepping into the role that Brand had just vacated.

Mr. Milliken was kind enough to answer a couple questions for us at BLH about accepting the job, and his overall excitement about the FHL as it heads towards its 10th season. Here’s what he had to say.

BLH: First off, just tell us how excited you are to take over as president and GM of one of the FHL’s premier franchises.

JM: Well, first I want to start by saying that you guys do a great job to help promote this league and others (Editor’s note: Blushes). I am extremely excited to be here in Winston-Salem and the Thunderbirds organization. This team is the premier standard for this league and even better in the community of Winston Salem. I’ve come to learn that this city is a “Hockey Town” thru and thru.

BLH: We know you’ve only been on the job a matter of hours, but any insight you can give us into how you plan to continue to build off the foundation Scott Brand and Co. laid there in Winston-Salem?

JM: Well, I have known Scott know for a few years and he has a great hockey mind. He has laid a foundation down that is rock strong. People here in W-S love Scott, as they very well should. He has turned this town “Hockey Crazy” again. And the staff he put in place is second to none. I’ll come in and just lead the troops in the same direction with just a few personal tweaks. We have established a great off season game plan and we already are pacing a tremendously higher number in season tickets and corporate partners is already calling us. So this Thunderbird train is full speed ahead.

BLH: You’ve been on the FHL expansion committee the past 3 years, and were previously a SPHL Assistant GM, how have those roles prepared you for this job in Carolina?

JM: Well, I worked in the SPHL as an Assistant to the GM, as the GM was also the coach, so I handled a lot of office stuff and learned a great deal in that process. I believe in the FHL, the business model is a great model for smaller cities that don’t have that weekend game. It’s also a model where a team can sustain in the city for many years. Myself and Scott have been to many cities looking to expand for the FHL. So knowing the league, commissioner, owners and league model, it’s a perfect fit for me.

BLH: The FHL has made strides over the past couple seasons, every team is back for 2019-20, and three expansion teams are on the way, what are your thoughts on how much the league has grown and what the future has in store for it?

JM: Great question, I really believe 2019-2020 is the year this league turns that corner. With the rumor of three new teams this year and maybe a few the year after, we are on the right track as a league. The league meetings had some new things we are doing this year to better the league. From more ref experience, to marketing ideas. Also, different committees set up to help teams without a big front office. But the bottom line is, Jimmy Milliken is about one team and one team only, the Carolina Thunderbirds!

Other places can do what they want, I want to bring our fans great entertainment, a great team on and off the ice, and the first back-to-back champions ever in the FHL. Again, Scott laid down a great foundation here in W-S and although I have no idea at his plans right now, I hope he stays in the league somehow, either GM, Coach, Commish or a bus driver because he is great for the league. AND I want to beat him! Shots Fired LOL. LET’S GO BIRDS!!!

Again, thank you to Jimmy for taking the time out of his, what we assume is a hectic, busy, first day on the job in Winston-Salem, and best of luck to him and the Carolina Thunderbirds as they start this new chapter in franchise history.


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