For the second time this season, Flint Firebirds head coach John Gruden and his assistant, Dave Karpa, have been fired.
(Yes, that’s an odd sentence to read unless you’re Billy Martin.)
To reset, let’s go back to November when the OHL side decided to let Gruden and Karpa go after team owner Rolf Nilsen was upset with the ice time of his son, Hakon. Once word got out, Firebirds players quit the team in support of the coaching staff.
A day later, Gruden and Karpa were rehired with new three-year contracts and the players ended their walkout, and Rolf Nilsen issued an apology to fans, calling the firings an “irresponsible mistake.”
Just last month Gruden was handed the reins as general manager after Terry Christiansen was reassigned within the organization.
According to Michigan Hockey Now, Flint practice was run by the players on Wednesday.
Since that drama, the season hasn’t gone well at all for Flint. As of Wednesday, the team is in ninth place in the OHL’s Western Conference with a 16-31-4-2 record. Between the poor season and the off-ice drama, the recruiting expectations for 2016-17 can’t be too high.
UPDATE: Here's OHL commissioner David Branch's statement on the firings:
"It has come to the league’s attention that the Flint Firebirds ownership has once again made significant changes to their coaching staff. This change, the manner in which it occurred and the way it was communicated to the players and to the league is of great concern.
"We have been in contact with the team captain and it is our intention to meet and communicate with all players and families in short order. The players and their playing experience is of the utmost importance to the league and we will continue to work to ensure that they are treated with respect.
"It is the league’s intention to immediately review the actions of the Flint Firebirds before we determine the next steps we will take to address this situation.
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