OHL Commissioner Visits Flint, “Extremely Excited” About New Team

As many people on the outside of the situation looking in have been skeptical of the Plymouth Whalers’ purchase and move to Flint, the man whose opinion really matters is excited about the ordeal.

OHL commissioner David Branch put to rest media concerns about the safety of players in a city with such a renown reputation for crime rates. Via MLive:

“We went down (to Flint) with an open mind and we came back extremely excited,” said Branch, OHL commissioner since 1979. “We were all so impressed; first of all with Mr. (Rolf) Nilsen.

“One of the key elements to the success of our league is ownership. Their care and their understanding of providing a positive experience and environment for our players, and protecting the integrity of our game, was ever so evident.”

The Flint team will be playing at Perani Arena, which opened way back in 1969. While it’s an older arena, inspections showed that only a few key components need to be upgraded, namely an improved boards and glass system, and some cosmetic changes to the locker rooms.

The new Flint OHL team will take the Whalers’ spot in the Western Conference, and the hope is that the team’s proximity to nearby and not-as-nearby teams such as the Saginaw Spirit, Windsor Spitfires, Sarnia Sting, and London Knights could spark some rivalries.

Costa Papista, team president, has said that a contest to name the team and come up with a team logo will begin on Wednesday, with a season ticket drive starting by the end of the week.

“The work begins now,” Papista said. “Project number one was making sure that we were prepared to be awarded the franchise. The next project is making sure that we’re successful when the puck drops in September.”

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