The new owner of the Nanaimo Clippers envisions a title game pitting the champions of the BCHL and USHL against one another one day.
In June, the B.C. Hockey League announced approval of the sale of the Clippers to Northern Lights Hockey Canada LLC, a group led by Brad Kwong, who also has a stake in the U.S. Hockey League’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Speaking at an Aug. 4 meet-and-greet at Wolf Brewing in Nanaimo, Kwong talked about his background and plans.
Kwong, born in Calgary and a former Harvard University hockey captain, said he joined the USHL in 2010-11, serving as board chairperson for four years and on the executive committee for seven years. Kwong’s resumé includes negotiating with the National Hockey League and U.S.A. Hockey for more funding. The number of USHL alumni in the NHL has increased between 20-25 per cent, he estimated, with 95 per cent earning U.S. college scholarships, something he wants to see translate to the BCHL.
“My goal of buying Nanaimo and joining the BCHL is to replicate that,” said Kwong. “I want to get active on the board of the BCHL. I want to raise the standards of the BCHL so that is on par with the USHL, so we can have a championship game sometime in the future between the USHL and the BCHL … that’s another long-term goal of mine.”
Kwong has experience working on Wall Street and wants to apply the Fighting Saints’ philosophy to the Clippers. It is based on three tenets: treat the business like the hockey, keep the players, staff and coaches in mind when it comes to decisions and make the team an integral part of the community.
“In Dubuque, we’ve done everything that you’ve seen with team player appearances, school visits. We want to do more of that here in Nanaimo,” said Kwong. “We’ve been responsible for approximately $1 million Canadian contributed back to the community through charity, jersey options, direct contributions through other vehicles that we’ve used to help the community of Dubuque. Again, [we] want to plan to do the same thing here in Nanaimo. The community is essential for us to exist.”