Flint Firebirds players revolt after coaches fired — reports

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Flint Firebirds players revolt after coaches fired — reports
Flint Firebirds players revolt after coaches fired — reports

Even those folks who were dubious about the Flint Firebirds succeeding never expected anything this catastrophic.

According to a report from OHL Insiders that was substantiated by ESPN's John Buccigross and news anchor Ryan Slocum of ABC 12 in Flint, the Firebirds fired coach John Gruden following Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Oshawa Generals. The firing evidently stemmed from Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen's displeasure regarding the amount of ice time that his son, 17-year-old rookie defenceman Håkon Nilsen, has been receiving. Upon receiving word of the shakeup, players quit the team en masse.

Firebirds? More like dumpster fire.

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The team's "no comment on the situation" reads like a non-denial denial. Generally speaking, this is the kind of explosive story a team would not want out in the news stream. Richard Tremblay, the Firebirds' strength and conditioning coach, also wrote a rather cryptic Tweet on Sunday evening.

Given that this involves the management and ownership that the OHL unanimously approved after the franchise was purchased from Peter Karmanos and moved from Plymouth, Mich., the fact it's public is embarrassing for the league and commissioner David Branch.

Coaches taking heat over how much ice time the owner's son gets is probably as old as junior hockey itself. Nevertheless, it comes off as petty and bush-league when it occurs in the self-proclaimed best developmental league in the world. A league aspiring to that status should be above this, and assuming the reports are true, the Firebirds players cannot be faulted for asserting that they are not onside with the front office politics being played here.

The Firebirds are ninth in the OHL's Western Conference with a .441 point percentage after 17 games. Their next game, ominously, is on Friday the 13th at home against the Sarnia Sting.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @naitSAYger.

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