Saginaw to Flint
June 9, 2021
This should add even more fuel to the Interstate 75 highway rivalry between the Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
That is, after one season as associate coach with Saginaw in 2019-2020, Jared Nightingale is taking a short trip a few exits down I-75 to become an assistant coach in Flint.
The 38-year old Nightingale has spent a lifetime in the game.
As a defenseman, he played for the Soo Indians of the junior level North American Hockey League for three seasons (from 1999 to 2002) before skating at the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association level with the Michigan State Spartans for four years. Nightingale then spent 13 seasons in the minor pro ranks before turning to coaching.
Terry Christensen, who is the president of hockey operations for the OHL Firebirds, noted Nightingale’s extensive hockey background.
“We are very, very excited to have Jared on board,” relayed Christensen. “He brings a great hockey background with him and was not only an outstanding hockey player but a great leader for the teams he played for as well.”
Nightingale’s duties role with the Firebirds will include working with the Flint defensemen and running the team’s penalty kill.
Before going to Saginaw and the OHL, Nightingale was an assistant coach for the United States National Team Development Program. His first year coaching was in 2017-2018 when he was an assistant coach for the Omaha Lancers of the junior level United States Hockey League.
“I am excited and eager to join the Firebirds organization,” Nightingale said. “I am very thankful to (owner) Rolf (Nilsen) and Terry (Christensen) for this opportunity and I look forward to getting started.”
The youngest of three brothers, Nightingale comes from a hockey family.
His oldest brother, Jason, is the director of analytics for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and his other brother, Adam, is the head coach for the USNTDP Under 17 program.
In moving from Saginaw to Flint, Nightingale, who is a native of Frankenmuth, Michigan, is the first assistant coach to join the staff of new head coach Ted Dent.
The 51-year old Dent replaces Eric Wellwood, who recently resigned his position with the Firebirds.
Dent brings plenty of experience in the game to Flint.
To be sure, Dent spent 11 seasons with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. He started as the IceHogs assistant coach in 2006 before being promoted to head coach in 2011, a position he held for the next six years.
During his time in Rockford, Dent coached and helped to develop several players who would assist the parent Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League win three Stanley Cups.