Jimmy Milliken, the general manager and president of the Carolina Thunderbirds, has resigned.
Milliken made the announcement via Facebook on Friday night, soon after the Thunderbirds’ 5-2 win over the Watertown Wolves.
Milliken said he was resigning so he could spend more time with his teenage son, Trevor, a high-school sophomore in Florence, S.C.
“I just want to say that as of today that myself and the Carolina Thunderbirds have mutually parted ways for personal reasons,” Milliken said in his announcement. “I can’t thank (team owners) Barry (Soskin), Cary (Ross) and Rick (Chaikin) enough for giving me the opportunity to run this first-class organization.”
Milliken, who was hired after Scott Brand left to be the general manager of the expansion Columbus River Dragons, also thanked Coach Andre Niec of the Thunderbirds.
Niec and Milliken put together a first-place team again this season. The Thunderbirds are the defending Federal Prospects Hockey League champions.
“To my staff, thank you guys for working hard and hitting goals,” Milliken said. “Andre, you’re a champion and one of the best coaches I’ve seen in hockey, your future is bright my friend. To all the player that wore the Thunderbirds crest this season, love you guys and thanks for working hard every game. Go get that ring.”
Milliken also thanked the fans for their support of the team.
On Saturday morning, Milliken said by phone that the parting with the Thunderbirds was a mutual agreement.
“There were some small issues, but really it’s about being able to spend more time with my son,” Milliken said by phone. “He plays basketball and football and he’s doing well. So I want to see him play, and it was tough on the long distance.”
The Thunderbirds headed into Saturday night’s game at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex second in the league in attendance behind Elmira, averaging 2,900 in the 3,200-seat Annex.
Even though Milliken wasn’t with the Thunderbirds that long, he said he was proud of what they have accomplished and what they can accomplish later this season.
“I’m sure some fans might be glad that I left because we did some things differently, but I’m proud of the season ticket sales we had the cooperate sales that were done,” Milliken said.
Milliken, 43, who has a background in the music industry, said he’ll look around for other jobs in either hockey or music.
“It wasn’t long where another minor league hockey team reached out to me by text, so that was nice to see,” Milliken said.
The Thunderbirds have once again dominated the FPHL outscoring opponents by 89 goals this season.
Milliken said working with Niec was a pleasure.
“There’s no doubt Andre is one of the best coaches around so I wish him and the guys nothing but the best.”