Former Flint Generals Coach Suits Up As Emergency Player For Team
With several players out of the lineup Friday night, the Elmira Enforcers hockey team needed a quick replacement. The minor league team in New York ended up with a very unique player joining the roster. The owner.
Elmira owner Robbie Nichols, now 55, suited up for the Enforcers, 25 years after his last season of active professional play. Originally drafted in 1984 by the Philadelphia Flyers before signing with the Detroit Red Wings in 1987, Nichols has had a hockey career filled with many roles.
Nichols played 12 years between the AHL and IHL before moving into front office duties where he would find himself coaching in the IHL, UHL and ECHL, General Manager roles in the ECHL, and finally becoming the owner of the Elmira Enforcers. Nichols coached locally for the Flint Generals from 1995-1999, winning a championship during the 95-96 season, and then returning as coach again from 2003-2005.
The Enforcers were going to be six players short for their game against Danbury that night. Friday morning Elmira coach Brent Clarke let Nichols know that he himself was suiting up to play and so was Nichols. It was a must for the team to be able to play. "I had to think about it a bit. I knew I'd be sore. But some Advil before the game and during the game meant I wouldn't feel pain until after the game," Nichols said.
At 55 going up against a younger group players, Nichols pretty much knew what to expect from his time on the ice. "The first period was tough. I was terrible. I had three shifts and didn't get much done," said Nichols. "The second period, I started getting my legs. I ran over three guys. Had some good hits. And got a penalty."
The after effects set in by Sunday when he was feeling sore and the pain from a two-handed slash he was given by one of the players he checked. Still, it was all about helping the Enforcers. As for the team, they suffered a 5-4 loss to Danbury.