Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Navy Vets set to drop anchor next season

The Woodstock Navy Vets are back.

Owner Bill McLeod said yesterday the team would return to its roots in time for next season. A new logo is being designed and there is an ongoing search for an executive, but the Renegades are no more.

"We had to be Renegades for a reason," McLeod said. "That's not a secret. But to get the Navy Vets back is something we always talked about."

McLeod and Navy Vets founder Sam Keeping took control of the team late in the 2006-07 season when Steve Barber and Roy Leggat left it buried in debt.

Because of liability concerns, the Renegades were born the following year and lasted three seasons -- long enough for McLeod to distance himself from Barber.

"The Renegades have been a fix-it stage for Junior C hockey," McLeod said. "Three years of learning and making mistakes and figuring out how other guys operate and who the hockey people are in this town. The experiment was done with the Renegades, not anything that would tarnish the Navy Vets."

Woodstock Navy Club president Rick D'Entremont, however, said the organization was not aware of the change.

"It's all new to us," he said.

There has always been a pocket of resentment from some in the city who were upset with the name change. McLeod planted the idea of returning to the Navy Vets in the summer when he held a trio of alumni games to raise the club's profile.

It wasn't until recently, when McLeod visited Boys Electric looking for jersey sponsorship, that a return to the Navy Vets became reality.

Boys Electric owner Jeff Csinos "basically cornered me," McLeod said. "He said, 'I like the Renegades but the Navy Vets need to come back. What's the hold up?'"

Boys Electric has supported the team financially the past three seasons and Csinos offered to pay for the Navy Vets jerseys.

"I like to support local organizations and they haven't had quite the following and passion behind it with the Renegades," he said. "Even our customers come here and inquire about the Navy Vets. It's a way to get some exposure and help them out.

"I hope the whole community gets behind them and goes out to support the games."

That was a problem this year as the third-place Renegades attracted an average of 150 fans -- not the type of support required for a team that once talked of going to Junior B.

"The team has struggled and it's pathetic with all the talent around," McLeod said. "We're not ready for Junior B until people start stepping up. Attendance was bad last year and people didn't support the team."

The Renegades relied on about 10 volunteers last season. One of McLeod's first tasks will be recruiting a strong executive to run day-to-day operations.

"Everybody has to bring something to the team, preferably something different," he said. "(They have to be) passionate about hockey, people who want to win and people who are there for the team and who aren't afraid to work.

"There are a lot of good hockey minds in town and they need to get their asses here and help out."

When the Navy Vets return to the ice

this summer, they will have an altered logo designed by assistant coach Keli Corpse.

As for finances, which have been a problem in recent years, McLeod said the team will pay last season's ice bill to the city some time this summer. Anything else is operational expense, he said.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary from any other team."


(Source Sentinel-Review)