Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League is pleased to announce the appointment of Barclay Branch as Vice-President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Flint Firebirds.
The announcement comes one year following the league’s appointment of George Burnett as Firebirds General Manager, hired to work closely with the players, parents, and hockey operations staff to re-establish the team both on and off the ice. Having done that, Mr. Burnett will be leaving the Firebirds to take on another role within the league.
“Over the last year George Burnett has provided the Flint Firebirds with a strong foundation on which to develop the team, the players, and continued success within the community of Flint and Genesee County,” said Joe Birch, OHL Senior Director of Hockey Development & Special Events. “On behalf of the OHL, I want to thank George for his commitment to the Firebirds and his hard work over the last year. I’d also like to welcome Barclay Branch who we as the League feel will help continue strengthening this foundation backed by a strong team in the hockey operations department including assistant general manager Joe Stefan and head coach Ryan Oulahen.”
The 2016-17 campaign saw the Firebirds achieve success both on and off the ice during their second OHL season including the club’s first playoff appearance, and being embraced throughout Flint and Genesee County as the players and team actively expanded their presence with various charitable and community event initiatives.
“It has been an honour to work with the players, families, billets and staff of the Flint Firebirds,” said George Burnett, outgoing General Manager. “In a short time we have pulled together, worked hard and shown everyone in hockey what we are made of. I am very proud to be associated with the Firebirds’ players who show nothing but strength and determination.”
Branch has spent his 17-year career in Major Junior Hockey in both management and scouting capacities, most recently as the General Manager of the Sudbury Wolves. He spent 11 years with the Belleville Bulls as Assistant GM and Director of Player Personnel where he reported to Burnett, and directed the Bulls’ OHL Priority Selection, drafting players such as P.K., Malcolm, and Jordan Subban, Brendan Gaunce, Eric Tangradi, and Brandon Saigeon. During that time the Bulls played in four Eastern Conference Finals highlighted by an appearance in the Mastercard Memorial Cup in 2008. Branch started his career with the Oshawa Generals, and also served as Assistant GM and Director of Player Personnel with the Hamilton Bulldogs prior to joining the Wolves. He is entering his fourth season as a regional Under-17 scout for Hockey Canada.
“I am excited to join the Flint Firebirds organization and work with the staff and the league to continue the team’s development and carry on the successes of this past season,” said Barclay Branch, incoming General Manager. “There is a real future for OHL hockey in Flint and I look forward to being part of it.”
The Firebirds will host a media availability on Tuesday April 18 beginning at 10:00 am at the Dort Federal Event Center. Burnett and Branch will both be in attendance alongside other members of the club’s hockey operations department and OHL personnel.