OHL Ready to Welcome Flint Firebirds


The Ontario Hockey League is ready to bring in another American based team, announcing today the addition of the Flint Firebirds for the 2015-2016 season.

The Firebirds are relocating to Flint, moving away from Plymouth, Michigan, where they had been known as the Plymouth Whalers. The Whalers had developed NHL players such as James Wisniewski, Justin Williams, James Neal, and Michal Neuvirth.

The name was decided after over 5,000 submissions to the new ownership group that moved the team to Flint. There were 38 entries for the Firebirds name.

“Flint is a community that has been built and sustained on the fierce resilience of its residents, and we see the Firebird as a symbol of that resilience,” team president Costa Papista said in a press release. “Flint has pulled through a difficult journey, and is now standing on the verge of great potential and promise. We see a revival happening in Flint. It’s the very reason we chose to be part of this community in the first place.”

IMS Hockey bought the Firebirds in December of 2014 with the intent to move the team to Flint. It is the fifth major hockey team to be in Flint- the others include the Flint Generals of the IHL (1969-85), Generals reboot in 1993-2010 in the IHL, Generals from the UHL from 1997-2007, and the Flint Bulldogs from 1991-1993.

The original Generals changed their name to the Flint Spirits in 1985 and lasted until 1990.

Other teams from the states in the OHL include the Erie Otters and Saginaw Spirit. The Western Hockey League, also a part of the CHL, has American teams with the Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Spokane Chiefs, Seattle Thunderbirds, and Tri-City Americans.

The Firebirds will play at the Perani Arena and Events Center in Flint. The ten final name choices where the Firebirds, Fury, Nationals, Vikings, United, Force, Spark Plugs, Sparks, and Pride. Another popular options were the Flint Tropics from the comedy movie Semi Pro but it was never a finalist or a name consideration.

“We desire to build a team that the community can be proud of; a team whose impact will be felt far beyond the ice of Perani Arena,” said team owner Rolf Nilsen said in a team press release.

The Whalers are having a terrible season and are in last place in their division. Their 52 points have them tied with Peterborough and Windsor and Sudbury is in dead last overall in the entire OHL with just 26 points.