The new owner of the Nanaimo Clippers introduced himself to the community and made it clear that he wants to win.
The city’s junior A hockey team held a press conference Friday at Frank Crane Arena where Wes and Penny Mussio were officially announced as the new majority owners.
Wes Mussio said he doesn’t plan to come in and “rock the boat,” necessarily, but he wants to see the team competing for an RBC Cup national championship within five years.
“What I want to do is take something that’s really good and move it on to the next level, and hopefully bring back some rings and some championships and some trophies,” he said.
The 53-year-old said he’s interested in owning the Clippers for the long term.
“Over time, I want to do more and more in hockey and less and less in business,” said the Vancouver-based lawyer and businessman.
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He said building back the fan base in Nanaimo will mean reinforcing the Clippers’ profile as a community-based team.
“If that happens, then suddenly people will show up and they’ll feel like they want to watch the team,” Mussio said. “The other thing is maintaining and ensuring a high-level product, so I plan to spend quite a bit more money on scouting and ensuring we have the top guys here.”
Also introduced at Friday’s press conference was the Clippers’ new head of hockey operations, Darren Naylor. The coach and general manager of the Delta Ice Hawks junior B hockey team will remain in those roles until season’s end, he said, but he’s already begun work with the Clippers.
“You have some ideas, ways you’ve done things in the past that have worked…” Naylor said. “It’s an evaluation process. We’re going to evaluate every aspect of this organization.”
Naylor said he’s scouted “high-end kids” and said announcements about player commitments could begin as soon as next week.
“With Wes, we’ve got a good owner here who’s going to really give us the resources to put the best team on the ice. He loves to win and he’ll spend the money to win. It’s going to be an organization that’s not cheap,” Naylor said.
The Mussio family will own 95 per cent of the hockey club, with team president David LeNeveu remaining a minority partner. The Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Society, which raised money to keep the team local, will meet Saturday, Nov. 11.
“All that money’s there and then it’s going to be up to the members of the society to determine how that moves forward,” LeNeveu said.
GAME ON … The Clippers host the Powell River Kings on Friday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at Frank Crane Arena.