Flint Firebirds
City Flint, Michigan
League Ontario Hockey League
Conference Western
Division West
Founded 1990 (1990)
Operated 2015
Home arena Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center
General manager George Burnett
Head coach Ryan Oulahen

Franchise history
1990–92 Detroit Compuware Ambassadors
1992–95 Detroit Junior Red Wings
1995–97 Detroit Whalers
1997–2015 Plymouth Whalers
2015–present Flint Firebirds
The Flint Firebirds are a major junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League that began play in Flint for the 2015–16 season. Based in Flint, Michigan in the United States, the Firebirds play their home games at the Perani Arena and Event Center.


Coming to FlintEdit

The Firebirds trace their roots back to the 1990–91 season, when the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors were added as an expansion team in the OHL. Since then the franchise has been the Detroit Junior Red Wings, the Detroit Whalers, and the Plymouth Whalers.

On January 14, 2015, it was announced that longtime Whalers owner Peter Karmanos had sold the team to IMS USA, Inc., with the intention to move the franchise to Flint and the Perani Arena.[1][2] The purchase and relocation was approved by the OHL on February 2, 2015.[3][4]

2015-16 Coaching/Ownership IssuesEdit

On November 8th, the owner of the Flint Firebirds fired the head coach, John Gruden after the team pulled out a come from behind overtime victory over the defending Memorial Cup champions earlier.  According to published reports the issue was the amount of ice time that owner, Rolf Nilson's 17 year old son was receiving.  Upon hearing of the removal of the coach the whole 24 members of the team quit, not wanting to play for anyone else but Coach Gruden.  Among those quitting the team were the owner's son, Håkon Nilsen.  The whole team went into the team's front office and threw their jerseys on the ground, quit the team and then walked out.  OHL commissioner David Branch was scheduled to meet with the ownership of the franchise on Monday November 9th to try to salvage anything out of what is a very bad situation for all involved.  After the meeting the owner issued a release through the OHL's website stating that he made "an irresponsible mistake" and the coaches were reinstated and meetings were held between the league commissioner, ownership, coaches and players.

The Firebirds organization made news headlines again on February 17th when the owner fired Coach (and now GM since January) Gruden and assistant coach Dave Karpa and named director of operations Sergei Kharin interim head coach. The way the handling of the terminations was handled (mainly involving communication to the players and the league) has lead to the league looking into the terminations. Commissioner Branch was in contact with the team's captain, Alex Peters and was planning on meeting with the rest of the players and parents within a few days. At the time of the firings the team was in 9th place in the conference with a 11-31-6 record and lost 8 of their last ten games. The team was actually on a pace for a better record than in 2014-15.

The league made the following announcements after the initial phase of their investigation: The owner and his appointees on the  management and coaching staff (including interim coach Sergei Kharin). The team is to provide counseling services for the players and that the management team is to co-operate with the commissioner and the league  for the rest of the investigation. The league and the commissioner have said they will take any appropriate actions to remedy the situation.

On April 6, 2016 the league announced that owner Rolf Nilsen was suspended for five years and fined $250,000 as a result of an investigation conducted by the league.  The report stated that Nilsen had violated an agreement he signed with the league on November 11, 2015.  The team was also penalized with the forfeiture of the team's first round pick in the OHL Priority Selection (the third pick overall in the draft).  The release stated if Nilsen violates any of the terms of the order from the league he will be required to sell 100% of his ownership interest in the Firebirds. Nilsen may file for re-instatement to participate in hockey operations after 3 years.  The league further announced that Joe Birch who took over the hockey operations in February will continue in the position and additional staff (head coach, GM, and other hockey operational staff) would be named shortly.  The team will continue to be under the stewardship, supervision and direction of the league commissioner.

Team nameEdit

Although there was sentiment towards resurrecting the Flint Generals nickname which had been used by two past teams in the city, the OHL quickly nixed that idea because of the Oshawa Generals using that name.[5] Likewise, a popular suggestion was the Flint Tropics, after the fictional American Basketball Association team of that name in the 2008 movie Semi-Pro.[6] However, after various others voiced their displeasure at their team possibly being named after a comedy movie's protagonist team, and the chance of the novelty wearing off after a while, the name did not make the list of finalist choices.[7][8]

The nine finalist nicknames were Firebirds, Force, Fury, Nationals, Pride, Spark Plugs, Sparks, United, and Vikings.[9] Finally, on March 16, the Firebirds' name, logo and colors were revealed.[10]

Notable playersEdit

Team captainsEdit

First round NHL Entry Draft picksEdit

Players who were drafted in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft while playing for the Firebirds franchise.

Second round NHL Entry Draft picksEdit

Players who were drafted in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft while playing for the Firebirds franchise.

Franchise recordsEdit

A complete list of team records can be found here.

Team records for a single season
Most points1061998–99
Most wins511998–99
Most goals for3301992–93
Least goals for1842015-16
Least goals against1621998–99
Most goals against3781990–91
Individual player records for a single season
Most goalsChad LaRose612002–03
Most assistsKevin Brown911992–93
Most pointsBob Wren1451992–93
Most points, rookieDavid Legwand1051997-98
Most points, defensemanBill McCauley1021994–95
Most PIMDavid Benn3051991–92
Best GAA (goalie)Robert Holsinger2.081998–99
Most wins (goalie)Rob Zepp361999–2000
Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played

Top scorersEdit

Top scorers in the history of the franchise.Edit

Player Years GP G A Pts PIM
Pat Peake 1990–92 162 138 181 319 162
Bob Wren 1991–94 182 115 188 303 220
Chris Terry 2005–09 253 114 175 289 352
Todd Harvey 1991–95 173 113 157 270 310
Kevin Brown 1992–94 113 102 167 269 161
Sean Haggerty 1993–96 187 131 132 263 136
John Vigilante 2002–06 254 93 153 246 107
Harold Druken 1996–99 187 123 120 243 60
John Mitchell 2001–05 258 80 150 230 158
Damian Surma 1998–02 241 105 120 225 286

Season-by-season resultsEdit

Regular seasonEdit

Legend: OL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout loss

Season GP W L OL SL Pts Pct % GF GA Standing
2015–1668 20 42 4 2 46 .338 184 279 5th West
2016-176832283590.6622321853rd West
2017-186820433245.3311943165th West
2018-196816466038.2792123505th West
2019-206340211182.6512742432nd West


  • 2016 Did Not Qualify
  • 2017 Lost in Conference quarterfinals 4 games to 1 to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
  • 2018 Did Not Qualify
  • 2019 Did Not Qualify
  • 2020 Playoffs cancelled


  1. McMann, Aaron (January 14, 2015). Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers moving to Flint in 2015-16 season. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  2. Whalers announce relocation plans. Ontario Hockey League (January 14, 2015). Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  3. McMann, Aaron (February 2, 2015). It's official: Ontario Hockey League approves Plymouth Whalers' move to Flint. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  4. OHL Board of Governors Approve Transfer of Ownership and Relocation to Flint. Ontario Hockey League (February 2, 2015). Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  5. McMann, Aaron (January 21, 2015). Hoping for a return of the Flint Generals name? OHL commissioner says it's not happening. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  6. McMann, Aaron (March 2, 2015). Name expected soon for Flint's OHL team; you still like 'Flint Tropics'. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  7. Heller, Andrew (February 11, 2015). Come Heller high water: Please don't call the hockey team the Flint Tropics. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  8. McMann, Aaron (February 13, 2015). Anti-'Tropics' crowd growing as naming contest for Flint's new OHL team ends. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  9. McMann, Aaron (February 26, 2015). Poll: Which of the 10 registered names do you like best for Flint's new OHL team?. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.
  10. McMann, Aaron (March 16, 2015). 'Flint Firebirds' unveiled as name for Flint's new OHL team. The Flint Journal. Retrieved on March 16, 2015.

External linksEdit

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Flint Firebirds. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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