Several former National Hockey League players find a retirement plan coaching junior teams, including the ones in the Ontario Hockey League. In a surprising turn of events, former Detroit Red Wings goaltender Greg Stefan has been named interim head coach as the Flint Firebirds and head coach Ryan Oulahen have parted ways on Friday.
General Manager Barclay Branch announced on Friday, Oct. 12 that coach Ryan Oulahen is leaving the team. Oulahen is reportedly leaving the team for personal reasons.
"I have decided to step down as Head Coach of the Flint Firebirds for personal reasons and my family. I appreciate the ongoing support of the Flint Firebirds." - Ryan Oulahen
Branch added that Oulahen's is leaving the organization due to personal family issues.
"We wish him the best in his future endeavors," Branch said during a press conference.
Unfortunately for the team and players, Branch revealed that they were blindsided by Oulahen's choice to leave.
"It blind-sided all of us but given the sensitive nature of it, we understand obviously with what Ryan and his family are dealing with," Branch said in the press conference. "The (players) obviously were shocked by it as we all were.
"But I think we have a real strong character group of players and we will regroup. I think everyone is excited about the two games we have this week.
Stefan is the Firebirds goalies coach. Assistant coaches Darcy Findlay and Garrett Rutledge will remain on the staff. In his career, Stefan was also the goaltending coach of the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL. This is the first time in his career that he is giving the head coaching job behind the bench.
Stefan will serve as interim coach for at least the next two games -- at home tonight and Saturday -- but Barclay Branch, the team's general manager and vice president of hockey operations, did not rule out the possibility that he could finish the season behind Flint's bench.
This important change comes at a time where the OHL team has been struggling the most. The Firebirds are off to the worst start in team history with an 0-7-0 record. They're last in the Ontario Hockey League's overall standings and have been outscored 42-11.