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OHL again reviewing Firebirds' decision to fire coaching staff

TORONTO -- The Ontario Hockey League is reviewing the Flint Firebirds' decision to fire their coaching staff for the second time this season.

The Firebirds announced Wednesday that head coach and general manager John Gruden and assistant coach Dave Karpa had been fired "effective immediately," with director of hockey operations Sergei Kharin named interim head coach.

Flint initially fired Gruden, Karpa and assistant coach Petr Jonak on Nov. 8 before reinstating them the next day.

Jonak kept his position with the team this time around.

"It has come to the league's attention that the Flint Firebirds ownership has once again made significant changes to their coaching staff," OHL commissioner David Branch said in a statement Wednesday. "This change, the manner in which it occurred and the way it was communicated to the players and to the league is of great concern."

Branch said the league had been in contact with Firebirds captain Alex Peters and intends to meet with the rest of the players and their families soon.

"The players and their playing experience is of the utmost importance to the league, and we will continue to work to ensure that they are treated with respect," Branch said. "It is the league's intention to immediately review the actions of the Flint Firebirds before we determine the next steps we will take to address this situation."

The Firebirds, formerly the Plymouth Whalers, are ninth in the Western Conference with an 11-31-6 record. They have dropped consecutive games and eight of their last 10.