MUSKEGON, MI- The Muskegon Lumberjacks have hired Mike Hamilton as the fifth head coach in Muskegon’s USHL franchise history.
Hamilton, 45, hails from Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, and was an assistant under John LaFontaine last season for the Lumberjacks. Hamilton’s primary role last year was to develop players with the help of video analysis.
“This is a great opportunity being presented to me by the Muskegon Lumberjacks,” said Hamilton. “I have built my life on taking advantage of opportunities, and am thankful to John Vanbiesbrouck and ownership for believing in me and extending this opportunity. I also want to thank current staff and players from last season’s team for speaking so highly of me. Your words are what separated me from many high-end applicants.”
Hamilton has coached hockey for the better part of 25 years, starting in 1994 with AAA organization Little Caesar’s. After a one-year stint with Compuware, Hamilton coached another Detroit AAA powerhouse, Honeybaked, for 18 years (1999-2017). Hamilton’s coaching career has included 15 State Championships, three National Championships and two Quebec World Championships.
Under Hamilton’s tutelage, players like Alec Martinez (LA Kings), Bobby Ryan (Ottawa Senators) and Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks) were able to develop their skills and build successful NHL careers.
“Hamilton is ready to take the next step in his coaching career,” said GM John Vanbiesbrouck. “He’s watched, he’s trained, he’s ready to come in and he’ll to a great job.”
Vanbiesbrouck, as well as owner Dan Israel, felt it was important to make this hire within the state, where so many elite hockey players originate.
“This is an opportunity for a local hockey coach to grow and reach new heights in his career,” said Israel. “We believe that he is the right guy not only because of his philosophies on the ice, but also for his connections with and knowledge of the hockey hotbed that is Detroit. We will continue to emphasize winning and the development of players into elite NCAA and NHL prospects.”
As a player, Hamilton’s junior hockey was played in the state of Michigan. A forward, Hamilton played in the North American Hockey League with the Lakeland Jets, Detroit Jr. Red Wings, and Detroit Freeze.
After a successful junior hockey career, Hamilton went on to play at Minnesota State University.
“We want to play with skill, be a puck-possession hockey team,” said Hamilton. “When we do not possess the puck, we want to play with lots of grit and do whatever it takes to get the puck back.
“We want to play fast, with speed and passion. We will surround ourselves with good people, guys with high hockey IQ, guys with speed, skill & lots of grit.”
Hamilton’s name is a familiar one for Lumberjack fans- Mike is the father of former Lumberjack captain Trevor Hamilton, who played in Muskegon from 2014-2016. Hamilton was named the Big Ten defensive player of the year this spring, and recently signed with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Hamilton will oversee Lumberjacks main camp that runs from May 24-27 at LC Walker Arena. The schedule will be released this week on muskegonlumberjacks.com.
The Lumberjacks also announced the hire of Mike McCall, who will step in as Muskegon’s President of Business Operations.
McCall brings a bevy of sales and marketing experience to Muskegon, highlighted by extensive time spent in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars. McCall has already begun making his mark in Muskegon, working alongside the city of Muskegon to bring exciting new renovations to LC Walker Arena.
“Mike McCall is a very important hire for this organization,” said Israel. “He brings big-time experience to Muskegon, and he will add focus to our efforts in sales.”
Under McCall’s leadership, the Lumberjacks will take aim at widely increasing their visibility in the greater Muskegon area, while continuing their mission to become the best junior hockey organization in the world.