The Nanaimo Clippers have been sold.
Wesley Mussio, a Vancouver lawyer and businessman, announced on social media Wednesday that he and his wife Penny are the new owners of the team.
Wes Mussio is managing partner of Mussio Goodman law firm and the co-owner of Backroads Mapbooks.
He posted on social media Wednesday that “Penny and I are the proud owners of the Nanaimo Clippers junior A hockey [team], looking to give back to hockey in B.C. and to Nanaimo, a great city.”
Penny and I are the proud owners of the Nanaimo Clippers- Junior A hockey; Looking to give back to hockey in BC and to Nanaimo, a great city
— Wesley Mussio (@WesMussio) November 9, 2017
He told the News Bulletin that after initially talking to the Clippers’ ownership a couple of years ago, he became seriously interested again this past September. Since then, the deal came together and the B.C. Hockey League approved the sale.
Mussio plans to keep the team in Nanaimo and said he’s even signed an agreement with the league to that effect.
“The reason I signed that is because my view is Nanaimo’s one of the better hockey towns in British Columbia … You’d be a crazy person to move the team … I wanted to go to a market that I think is a good hockey market and Nanaimo’s a great one.”
He loves the game and had been playing competitive rec until recently.
“And then when I realized I’m 51 and everyone else is 19, 20 and right out of junior hockey, it’s time to pack up the skates and get more involved in the management side,” he said. “So this is sort of my retirement plan from hockey because I’ve always wanted to remain in hockey.”
He said he plans to open a branch of his law firm in Nanaimo and own a home in the Harbour City.
Mussio had owned the junior B Delta Ice Hawks, but had to give that up due to a Pacific Junior Hockey League rule preventing ownership in a competing league. Darren Naylor, head coach and general manager of that team, will join the Clippers as head of hockey operations, Mussio said, but Mike Vandekamp will be retained as coach and GM.
“I’m not going in there to change much except for ensuring that there’s good funding and that the team has better and better success in the coming years,” Mussio said.
The previous ownership group led by Ken Wagner had considered selling to a buyer interested in moving the team to Campbell River this past spring, but a community effort to keep the team local resulted in the formation of the Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Society. The society has been raising money toward the purchase of the team.
“They couldn’t get enough interest in that, but nonetheless, what I want to do is empower that group of individuals to help with promoting the team and game day operations. You’d be crazy not to use people that want to get involved,” Mussio said.
Wagner said the new owner will be a “huge boost” for the Clippers.
“With Wes being there, it’s a new sense of energy, new passion, willing to try new things,” Wagner said.
He said it was time to sell, suggesting the ownership group’s heart hasn’t been in it for the last couple of seasons.
“For us, it’s been 11 years of owning the club and it’s been a lot of fun, man. The last couple years, not so much fun with the [multiplex] referendum and the uncertainty of the team … but it’s been good,” Wagner said, adding he’s most proud of all the young men the Clippers helped to develop. “I certainly want to thank all the sponsors, the fans, anybody that’s supported the club since we’ve been there. We’ve had some really good years and we’ve had some not-so-good years, but that’s sports.”