Nanaimo Clippers coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp

Nanaimo Clippers coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp

Former NHLer LeNeveu the new face of Nanaimo Clippers ownership

The Nanaimo Clippers held a press conference Wednesday to introduce former NHLer David LeNeveu as president and governor of the team.

The Nanaimo Clippers announced a high-profile alumnus as a new face of ownership.

The city’s B.C. Hockey League club held a press conference Wednesday to introduce former NHLer David LeNeveu as president and governor of the team.

“The Clippers were a big jump-start to my career as a professional hockey player and I want to give back to that and I also enjoy watching them develop, the next crop of players,” he said.

LeNeveu tended goal for the Clippers in 2000-01, went on to Cornell University and then played pro hockey including stints with the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. He and his family have lived in Nanaimo for 12 years, and he has recently helped out as a goaltending coach with the Clippers.

The 33-year-old said joining the ownership group made a lot of sense at this stage in his career and life. The Clippers’ out-of-province ownership group had long been looking for a local representative, said Ken Wagner, the team’s co-owner. Mike Vandekamp, Clippers coach and general manager, said he’s been supporting and endorsing a greater role for LeNeveu for a long time.

“I think it’s an important step for our organization,” Vandekamp said. “We’ve made some good strides in the last few years … and I think this just gives us another sort of boost of nitrous to give us a push in the right direction.”

Though the move was only officially announced this week, LeNeveu was already in place as governor in time to attend the BCHL’s annual general meeting this month.

His new role will be to oversee all operations of the Clippers, he said, and a major part of that is to try to help build excitement and passion surrounding the team.

“We’ll develop a plan going forward to re-engage this community to come on board and hopefully fill this arena with fans and have that support that everybody dreams of having,” LeNeveu said.

Another priority will be maintaining and expanding sponsorships with local businesses.

“We want to establish the relationship that’s expected from both sides, with their involvement with the team and our support and follow-up with them,” LeNeveu said. “We really have to solidify that within this community.”

In the past, he’s cheered for the Clippers as a coach, alumnus and fan, but he expects to have even more emotional investment now in wins and losses.

“[It’s] going to be a lot higher,” he said. “Our goal is always to develop the players first here, but it’s also to win and win a championship, as well. That’s something that’s very difficult to do. And I’ll be the first one out of my seat when we score that winning goal and win a championship.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com