Plymouth Whalers moving to Flint

January 14, 2015

Pending formal approval from the Ontario Hockey League, the Plymouth Whalers will be moving an hour north to Flint effective the 2015-2016 season, has confirmed.

The announcement of the sale of the Michigan-based team from Peter Karmanos to IMS USA Inc. was made official this morning.

Karmanos, who formerly owned the Windsor Spitfires, has operated an OHL team in the metro Detroit area for 25 years. The franchise has undergone several name changes — from the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors to the Detroit Jr. Wings to the Detroit Whalers to the Plymouth Whalers.

The Whalers have been playing out of Compuware Arena in Plymouth since 1997 and despite icing contending teams more often than not — they have made the playoffs 23 straight seasons — average attendance has been near the bottom of the OHL rung at just over the 2,000 mark.

Now comes the move to the 4,000-seat Perani Arena and Event Centre in nearby Flint, which has been the home of the Michigan Warriors of the North American Hockey League since 2010. Under coach Moe Mantha — a former National Hockey League defenceman and OHL bench boss — the Warriors have averaged less than 1,000 fans per game in Flint despite winning two NAHL North Division titles in four years.

At any rate, with IMS USA Inc. having recently purchased Perani Arena and then advising the NAHL Warriors that they would not be welcome to return in 2015-2016, the OHL will now set up in Flint, which for many years was a minor-pro hockey town and home to the erstwhile Flint Generals.

Costa Papista, a 46-year old Detroit area native who played in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves and London Knights and who was the first general manager of the Saginaw Spirit, serves as president of IMS USA Inc.

Saginaw and Flint — former arch-rival, minor-pro foes from their days together in the old International Hockey League — will now be OHL opponents, separated by about 20 miles along Interstate 75.

As for Compuware Arena, sources say USA Hockey is expected to formally move its National Team Development Program there from Ann Arbor.

What you think about “Plymouth Whalers moving to Flint”

  1. RR is vindicated – he has been saying this would happen for over a year now and now it has. Good reporting RR.

    1. If Warriors relocate somewhere in Michigan, it will not affect the Eagles. If the Warriors fold or leave Michigan, well then…

    1. Tim O,

      Lots of talk, nothing really substantiated. Have heard Lansing and Port Huron but those are lukewarm rumours.

  2. I’m disappointed to see the Whalers leave Plymouth , My first OHL game that I attended now 19 years ago , was against the Detroit Whalers so since then I have always looked forward to there visit here in the Nickel City 25 years of history coming to an end once the final horn sounds sad and unfortunate ! I always thought Flint would get a team just not this way ! when i first started attending junior games it seemed more fan friendly and less of a business, I can not believe what a massive business junior hockey has become in my time of attending games around the Provence ! All I can say is WOW ! Good luck in Flint !

  3. Flint??? Hmmmmm. Lets hope they put on one hell of a marketing campain to get Players from Canada to want to play in Flint.

  4. So, the if the fold or move out of Michigan comment seemed to imply that may affect the Eagles – name some scenarios please Randall and why the Warriors would affect them. How about Warriors to Compuware Arena – much, much nicer than the IMA ooppps, I mean Perrani. Does Karmonos own that facility any more. I figured he would dump the team when he sold Compuware last year. He killed the NAHL Ambassadors, a great rivalry with the Soo Indians.

    1. Scenarios affecting the Eagles are all related to travel. USNTDP is taking over Compuware Arena as per my story. Karmanos has sold Compuware Arena to USA Hockey, also as per my story. New owners of the Whalers own Perani, as per my story.

  5. Thanks for nothing Mr. Nilsen…all this so your son Hakon and his friends can have a OHL Team to play for.

  6. Whalers to Flint is a bold move. Not to second guess the ownership group moving the team, but I hope between the economics of Genesse County and the rumor winds of Costa Papista’s stint in Saginaw; this is not the impending demise of a Michigan based OHL team.
    Papista certainly has to be aware of the dismal financial shape of Flint; the city does not have the financial footing or the will to aid the team with any city based incentives. In fact, the City of Flint sold the IMA to Robert Perani in the early 2000’s because they could not afford the maintenance or required upgrades – still sorely needed.
    The big question where does Papista believe his fans will come from? A Flint based team has not filled Perani’s/IMA since the mid-1990s. One drive down Miller Rd, Court St. or Pierson Rd will tell one the story of inner-city flight; which has affected Genesee TWP, Flint TWP, MT. Morris TWP, and Burton. Not to mention the shooting/homicide statistics that lay in wait right out the front gate of the arena between Lapeer Rd and Lippincott BLVD. News Channel 12 didn’t move off Lapeer Rd for water front property!
    Sincerely, good luck to the marketing team as we hope not to lose a Michigan based OHL team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *