Just two seasons into his time with the Sudbury Wolves, it appears Wolves General Manager Barclay Branch is heading out of town, expected to take over GM duties for the Flint Firebirds.
On Saturday, Sportsnet host Jeff Marek tweeted out, “Expect George Burnett to be named GM of the Guelph Storm and Barclay Branch GM of the Flint Firebirds early next week.”
When contacted earlier today, the Wolves refused to comment on Marek’s tweet. The team has since issued a news release this afternoon, confirming Branch’s resignation, but not his destination.
Sudbury.com spoke with Marek, who fully believes there will be an announcement from Flint early Tuesday morning regarding Branch, and regarding Burnett taking over as GM and head coach of the Guelph Storm.
Flint found itself in trouble last year with its new owner. Norwegian-born industrialist Rolf Nilsen was suspended for five years by the OHL after twice firing the Firebirds’ head coach, a move that prompted the entire Flint roster to quit en masse.
The Flint team is now under the direction of OHL commissioner David Branch, the father of Barclay Branch.
Of his departure, Branch said in a Wolves’ news release that he appreciates his time in the Nickel City.
“The Sudbury Wolves are an iconic franchise in junior hockey and I was honoured and privileged to have had an opportunity to be a part of this great organization,” Branch said. “I appreciate the tremendous support from the players, coaches, management, media, the entire Wolves family, and most importantly the passionate fans.”
Team president Blaine Smith has confirmed that the Wolves’ vice-president of hockey operations, Rob Papineau, is taking over as GM. Papineau was brought in by Pack owner Dario Zulich in the late August.
Papineau is a Sudbury native, a former OHL player (for Ottawa and Detroit, before the team was moved to Flint) and a former scout with the Carolina Hurricanes.