A familiar face is going back behind the Flint Firebirds' bench and let's just say changes behind the bench have also become a familiar thing. Last Friday, the Ontario Hockey League club revealed that the Firebirds and head coach Ryan Oulahen had parted ways.
General Manager Barclay Branch announced on Friday, Oct. 12 that coach Ryan Oulahen is leaving the team. Branch explained that Oulahen's is leaving the organization due to personal family issues. Unfortunately for the team and players, Branch revealed that they were blindsided by Oulahen's choice to leave.
"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
The announcement was then made that former Detroit Red Wings goaltender Greg Stefan had been named interim head coach. Stefan is the Firebirds goalies coach and assistant coaches Darcy Findlay and Garrett Rutledge were said to remain on the staff.
However late on Thursday, the team announced that Eric Wellwood, who was an associate coach with the Firebirds in 2016-17, has been hired to replace Ryan Oulahen. Stefan only took over for the sake of one weekend. At the time of the interim announcement, 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.
“We could not be happier to welcome Eric Wellwood back to the Firebirds,” Branch said in a statement. “Eric will bring a very strong pedigree to Flint, having won championships both as a player and a coach. He is a teacher and student of the game.”
Wellwood is therefore returning to Flint to help the struggling team, who are 0-9 this season after losing their first seven games under Oulahen. They're last in the Ontario Hockey League's overall standings and have been outscored 53-17.
"I don't think my focus is turning things around in wins and losses right now," said Wellwood to MLive.com following the announcement. "I think right now we're just going to get fun back into the game. I'm going to implement my systems. I'm starting a couple months behind most teams so I'm not too worried about wins and losses right now.
"It's about implementing my strategies."
Let's hope this third coach will bring the results the Firebirds desperately need...