The situation surrounding the Flint Firebirds these last couple days has drawn international attention to the OHL. Let’s take a walk through the events. 

The Emotional Win – Sunday PM

GM Terry Christensen, Owner Rolf Nilsen & Asst. Coach Petr Jonak having long discussions while watching a game Vs. Oshawa on Sunday afternoon. Following the conversation, Jonak takes off, as if to avoid a mess.

Flint defeats the Oshawa Generals in an amazing comeback shootout victory. Following the game, the players are skating with fans on their ice with fans while coaches John Gruden and Dave Karpa are called to managements office. It is there that they receive the news that they will no longer be with the club.

Keep in mind this is after a comeback shootout victory over the Oshawa Generals.

Following the players skate, an emotional coaching duo head down to the dressing room to break the news to their players.

Sunday night I get home from Guelph, check my phone and see multiple individuals coming forward with information surrounding the Flint Firebirds. “Heard the whole flint coaching staff got fired. It’s chaos apparently. Players walking out,” was one message. Another read “Firebirds currently on strike coaches fired.”

The Equipment Manager, Matt Nareski, was also relieved presumably for allowing players to pack up their gear.

Time to introduce Hakon Nilsen. Hakon is the son of owner, Rolf Nilsen. Hakon billets with Asst. Coach Petr Jonak (the only remaining coach).

“GM and Owner started riding the coaches to play him more and more. It got to the point where he was on the PP and PK. They would come down during intermission and tell them to play him more. This kid would struggle to make a Major Midget team and belongs nowhere near an OHL roster.”

Allow me to introduce you at this point to GM Terry Christensen. Terry has been shooting for the Head Coaching job since day one. He previously coached Hakon Nilsen up through the ranks. He at this point, also remains and likely assumes the head coaching job by making promises to Rolf about how he would use his son more and saying negative comments regarding current coaches John Gruden and Dave Karpa.

So by now you can probably see two clear sides. You have the Pro Hakon Nilsen squad which includes owner and father Rolf Nilsen, GM Terry Christensen as well as Asst. Coach Peter Jonak. The two staff which remain through all of this. The other side let’s call Team Fair and it consists of fired staff John Gruden, Dave Karpa,  Matt Nareski, and players.

The individual in the oddest situation here is Hakon Nilsen, who actually revolted against his own father and quit with the rest of his team. Clearly he is fine with his situation and does not feel he needs or has warranted more ice time. This is a case of a father wanting to live vicariously through his kid and he somehow purchased an OHL franchise to make that happen for him.


Players all go to one billets house and spend the night together.

The Next Day – Meetings – Monday AM

As a result… – Monday AM

In Comes Mr. David Branch – Monday AM

In these meetings, Branch makes it clear to owner Rolf Nilsen the implications of his actions and sends a stern warning to stay out of the hockey operations of his team.

Group Hug…Kind of – Monday PM

Official Releases Come Out – Monday PM

The Firebirds released a statement from owner Rolf Nilsen saying that he acted out of emotion (following a win??) and that the coaches had been rehired.

Team President Costa Popista goes on record saying Rolf’s decision had nothing to do with his son Hakon, meanwhile commissioner David Branch speaks on Fan 590 saying he sternly warned Rolf to stay out of hockey operations, which conveyed essentially the opposite of what Costa Popista had told media.

Still One Issue…Players Haven’t Recommitted – Tuesday AM

Players are not comfortable having GM Terry Christensen in the mix. They feel he’ll be bitter over not getting his head coaching job and will be out for revenge. This could result in unwanted and unwarranted moves.

Players Move Back In – Tuesday PM






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