After a roller coaster opening season in Flint, the Firebirds have named a new General Manager that they hope can lead the team in a positive direction.
The team has been under the direction of Ontario Hockey League commissioner David Branch since April, when Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen was suspended for five years. Nilsen twice fired the team’s head coach over the protests of the players.
They missed the playoffs with a 20-42-4-2 recording, 10 points back of the eighth place Saginaw Spirit.
The Firebirds made a pair of personnel announcements Tuesday.
George Burnett was appointed General Manager, while Joe Stefan was named Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development.
“The League is entrusting George Burnett with the hockey operations of the Flint Firebirds and we believe his experience will provide the players, parents, billets and team staff with stability and expertise,” said David Branch OHL Commissioner. “Burnett will be backed by a strong team in hockey operations, including Joe Stefan who is well known to Flint Firebirds players and families.”
Burnett was the Coach and General Manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs last season, after nine seasons at the helm of the Belleville Bulls. He’s also coached with the Oshawa Generals, Guelph Storm and Niagara Falls Thunder.
Stefan is a familiar face in the Flint dressing room, serving as interim head coach for the final 15 games of the season.
He came to the Firebirds when the team move from Plymouth. The Brantford native began his OHL coaching career with the Whalers as an assistant in 2007 after joining the club’s staff as a scout in 2005. He was named associate coach in 2008, and was on the Whalers’ bench until 2014.
Joe Birch, who has led Flint’s hockey operations since February, will continue in his current role.
A Head Coach is expected to be named in the near future.