Head coach John Gruden and assistant coach Dave Karpa have been re-hired by the Flint Firebirds a day after the team's players quit en masse to protest their dismissal on Sunday.
It's also believed that an agreement has been reached with the Firebirds players to return to the team. Local reporter Ryan Slocumb tweeted that players leaving a meeting with team management Monday afternoon answered questions by saying, "we're not allowed to comment," a reply that suggests they're back under the team's control.
The members of the Ontario Hockey League team learned that their coaches had been fired after their 4–3 overtime win over the Oshawa Generals. They then reportedly “marched” to the office of GM Terry Christensen, threw their jerseys on the ground and quit as a group.
News of the firings came shortly after their comeback win today Vs. Oshawa. The march up to management offices occured shortly thereafter— OHLInsiders (@OHLinsiders) November 9, 2015
Gruden was reportedly let go as a result of a dispute over the playing time of rookie defenseman Hakon Nilsen, the 17-year-old son of owner Rolf Nilsen. The younger Nilsen has skated in five games this season, including Sunday’s contest, registering no points, two penalty minutes and a –3 rating. Hakon Nilsen was among the players who quit.
There are conflicting reports about the future of the younger Nilsen. Despite early reports that he had been traded, possibly to the Sudbury Wolves, Christensen says that is "100%" not true.
The team’s next game is Friday against the Sarnia Sting.
Nilsen purchased the former Plymouth Whalers and moved the team to Flint earlier this year. The Firebirds are 7-9-0-1 and rank ninth in the OHL’s 10-team Western Conference.