Owner of Flint Firebirds suspended for five years, hit with a $250K fine

The Ontario Hockey League has made it’s final ruling on the situation with the Flint Firebirds, and has hit owner Rolf Nilsen with a massive punishment.

In a statement from league commissioner David Branch, it has been announced that Nilsen has been suspended from being involved directly or indirectly with hockey operations of the team for five years, and a $250,000 fine. In addition, the team has been forced to forfeit their first round pick (third overall) in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

If it is determined by the league that Nilsen has violated the order, the OHL may order him to sell 100% of his ownership of the team. After three years, Nilsen is allowed to apply for reinstatement to participate in hockey operations of the team.

Over the course of the suspension, the team will remain Branch’s supervision.

Joe Birch, who has led hockey operations for the team since February will continue in the same role. A general manager, coach, and addition coaching staff members will be appointed in the near future.

Nilsen first came under fire in November after firing head coach John Gruden and his coaching staff, reportedly because his son – defenseman Hakon Nilsen – wasn’t getting enough ice time. This led to a full-team revolt, which culminated in the entire team throwing their jerseys on the ground and walking out. After the backlash, Nilsen rehired the entire staff the next day, and signed them all to three-year extensions.

In the aftermath, Nilsen signed an agreement with the league stating that he would not be allowed to fire his coaches again without OHL consultation, and also forbid him from meddling in hockey operations.

MUST READ:
Steve Yzerman to meet with media after not renewing Jeff Blashill's contract

However, Gruden and his staff were fired again on February 17. Commissioner Branch quickly responded by suspending Nilsen indefinitely.

“The OHL must strive at all times to meet our objectives of providing our players with the support, programs, and tools to ensure they have the best possible experience to grow as people and as players,” said Branch.

The fine and suspension are among the longest in the history of the OHL.

Have you subscribed to our YouTube Channel yet? Subscribe and hit that notification bell to stay up to date on all the latest Detroit sports news, rumors, interviews, live streams, and more!