Founded in 1978 by former Compuware CEO and President, Peter Karmanos and partner Thomas Thewes, the Compuware Youth Hockey Program was formed with the goal of providing a local program where young players could develop to the height of their potential. The crown jewel of the Compuware program was the Junior A Ambassadors. Previously competing in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the Junior A program was met with unbridled success throughout its storied past. The 2001-2002 team accomplished every one of their pre-season goals by winning the regular season crown, the Robertson Cup, and the Gold Cup National Championship. To date, Detroit Compuware has also placed over 225 Compuware graduates into the Major Junior or Division I college hockey via scholarship. In addition to the aforementioned accomplishments the Compuware alumni list of players who have reached the NHL continues to swell including such notables as Eric Lindros, Pat Peake, Pat LaFontaine, James Wisniewski, Brian Rolston, Mike Modano and David Legwand just to name a few. As time went on, Karmanos and Thewes expanded the Compuware Hockey Program to include the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Windsor Compuware Spitfires from 1983-89 and then an expansion franchise for Detroit in the OHL known as the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors. The Ambassadors – who started play in 1990 – moved to Plymouth in 1996 and were renamed the Plymouth Whalers. The Plymouth Whalers were sold in 2015 and relocated to Flint becoming the Flint Firebirds. The Whalers currently have the longest active streak of any OHL team to make the playoffs, having missed only post season play in just their first expansion year of 1990-91 and their final year of 2014-15. The Whalers won the OHL league titles in 1995 and again in 2007. Over 95 Whalers have been selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft while the current alumni still playing in the NHL ranks include Chris Thorburn (Winnipeg), Jared Boll (Columbus), James Neal (Nashville), Gregory Campbell ( Boston), Stephen Weiss (Detroit), David Legwand (Ottawa), John Mitchell (Colorado), Justin Williams (LA), and James Wisniewski (Anaheim). With the success of the Compuware Youth Hockey Program and the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, Karmanos and Thewes expanded their hockey roots further to include the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers in 1994. They have since moved the team to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997 while adding the East Coast Hockey’s Florida Everblades later in 1997. The Carolina Hurricanes have continued their NHL success by winning their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2006.
PLYMOUTH - Now a little over 30-years-old, the Compuware Hockey program has built a sustained track record of excellence. No matter what level – Youth, Junior A, Ontario Hockey League, or National Hockey League – Peter Karmanos Jr.’s teams have won titles at all levels of the game. Locally, the Compuware Youth Hockey [CYH] program has captured 33 state championships. Nationally, the youth program has won 14 titles. In addition, CYH won the prestigious Quebec International Tournament in 2006 and 2010 while finishing second in 2005 and 2007. On a larger scale, Karmanos’ Ontario Hockey League teams – the Windsor Compuware Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers – have won OHL Championships in 1988, 1995 and 2007. Karmanos’ National Hockey League team – the Carolina Hurricanes – won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Karmanos has been recognized locally and nationally for his contributions to hockey. In 1997, Karmanos received the National Hockey League’s Lester Patrick Award, given annually to persons who are recognized for “outstanding service to hockey in the United States.” In 2010, Karmanos won the Ontario Hockey League’s Bill Long Award for Distinguished Service. The award is presented in recognition of an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the OHL. Karmanos was also elected to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. “I cannot say enough about what Mr. Karmanos has meant for the growth of hockey at all levels,” OHL Commissioner David Branch said. “He’s brought in and developed so many great people and has had a great influence in our league and other leagues. He provided us for the very first time as a league a team in the United States, which has been so beneficial for us and helped us grow the Ontario Hockey League.” In 2012 Mr. Karmanos won the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award and in 2014 was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame. After Karmanos bought the Windsor Spitfires in 1984 and revitalized a struggling franchise that won the OHL Championship in 1988, the OHL awarded an expansion franchise to Karmanos for Detroit – the first OHL franchise based in the United States. The Plymouth Whalers made the OHL playoffs for 23 straight seasons – a current OHL record – and won championships in 1995 and 2007. In 2015, the Whalers were sold and relocated to Flint to become the Flint Firebirds. Karmanos’ teams have touched the lives of countless individuals over 30 years. Compuware Youth Hockey players have moved through the ranks to earn college scholarships. Nearly 150 members of the Whalers or the CYH program have been drafted by the National Hockey League. In addition, several managers and coaches received their start with the Compuware Program and have become a success at higher levels – up to and including the National Hockey League. In 2014-15, 13 Compuware Youth Program alums played in the National Hockey League, including local players Torey Krug, Ryan Kesler, Andy Copp, and David Legwand. Clearly, the Compuware hockey program has stood the test of time as a model franchise.
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