It’s official. The Ontario Hockey League is moving Michigan towns from Flint to Plymouth…Here and then and around the rinks…
IN LIKE FLINT
As expected, the Ontario Hockey League has approved the transfer of ownership and relocation of the Plymouth Whalers to Flint effective the 2015-2016 season.
Under the ownership of Peter Karmanos, the Whalers have been in Plymouth since 1996 and the franchise, which began as the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors, has been a part of the OHL since 1990. The team has also been known as the Detroit Jr. Wings and the Detroit Whalers.
With the move to Flint, the team will play out of the Perani Arena and Event Centre. Both the team and arena will be under the ownership of Rolf Nilsen of IMS Hockey Corporation.
Costa Papista, who has a long association in the game, will serve as president of the Flint franchise and also oversee operation of Perani Arena.
The 46-year old Papista, who is from the Detroit area, played three OHL seasons as a hard-nosed, hard-working defenceman-left winger with the Sudbury Wolves and London Knights before skating for three more years at the University of New Brunswick.
As an OHL executive, Papista has worked for both the erstwhile North Bay Centennials and the Saginaw Spirit. He has also owned and managed minor pro teams.
A likeable, personable, well-educated individual, Papista told HockeyNewsNorth.com via telephone today that now that the sale and relocation of the OHL franchise from Plymouth to Flint has been approved, “the real work begins. We have a lot to do on the hockey and the business side.”
On the hockey end, Papista will be responsible for hiring a general manager along with coaches and scouts. He and Nilsen are also discussing marketing plans and strategies designed to try to sell the OHL in Flint, which has been home to the Michigan Warriors of the Tier 2 junior North American Hockey League since 2010.
The Warriors are for sale and will not return to Perani Arena for the 2015-2016 season.
To be sure, Papista said he and Nilsen are “extremely excited” about establishing an OHL rivalry with the Sprit being that Saginaw is located about 20 miles from Flint along Interstate 75 highway.
Flint and Saginaw have an historical minor pro rivalry dating back to the days of the erstwhile International Hockey League.
I like Jordan Smith, who coaches the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. But does he have to threaten to shake up his roster every time the Thunderbirds lose a game? Last time I checked, the Thunderbirds were neck-and-neck with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners for first place in the NOJHL…Two guys who do double duty: Michael Barbeau is conditioning coach for both the NOJHL Thunderbirds and Soo Eagles of the North American Hockey League. And Bill Vanderleest is goalie coach for both the NAHL Eagles and the Batchewana Attack of the Canadian International Hockey League…It’s official: Five teams will compete at the Shamrock Showdown Showcase Tournament that is being hosted by the Detroit Fighting Irish of the Midwest Jr. Hockey League this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Besides host Detroit, the Motor City Monarchs of the MWJHL and the Batchewana Attack, Espanola Rivermen and Kalkaska Rhinos of the CIHL will take part, Fighting Irish coach-general manager Dan Vasquez has confirmed.