Former Red Wings prospect Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the Flint Firebirds.
The Ontario Hockey League, which has taken control of the junior club due to the actions of owner Rolf Nilsen, made the announcement this morning.
In addition to the hiring of Oulahen, former Flyers prospect Eric Wellwood was named associate coach.
“Today’s announcement is a further piece in putting together a strong hockey operations staff for the Flint Firebirds,” said OHL commissioner David Branch in a statement. “Their combined knowledge and experience will help develop the Flint Firebird players both on and off the ice.”
Oulahen is only 31, but he’s spent the last six years as an assistant coach of the Brampton/North Bay Battalion.
Wellwood is even younger, just 26, but has been as assistant coach for Oshawa the past two seasons.
“Ryan and Eric are both young yet experienced, bringing tremendous enthusiasm, leadership and a strong foundation in junior hockey to the Firebirds’ bench,” said Flint GM George Burnett.
Enthusiasm and leadership will be key. Because the challenge now will be to turn around a team that not only struggled badly on the ice, but also had major issues off of it.
The Firebirds franchise moved from Plymouth to Flint for the 2015-16 season, after it was sold to Nilsen by Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos, Jr.