David LeNeveu is a goaltenders goaltender. Hard working, determined, smart, historically interesting — he’s a hockey coaches dream come true. Between breaking Ken Dryden’s shutout record at Cornell, and backstopping one of the best goaltending duos in recent American Hockey League history, LeNeveu seems like a player on the brink.
After an incredible season where he could easily have been a starting vet goaltender on nearly any AHL team, David LeNeveu suddenly became the forgotten man between the pipes. He has Yann Danis to thank for that. His numbers were good for a seasoned goaltender in the minors. His 34 games, nearly 2000 minutes, 810 saves, 2.24 goals allowed, and .918 save percentage were not only career highs, but were the best by any goaltender in the league under 40 games played. To say he was forgotten might be too strong. His impact on the Barons not only aided his team, but helped fellow netminder Danis become the guy that gets a second year contract extension, and the accolades of an entire franchise and league.
So what’s LeNeveu to do? Not having a contract in an NHL lockout year is going to become a very common theme amongst many players looking for roster spots. Such is the life in N. American hockey. Work stoppages are an all too common occurrence, and so are the underdog contracts.
LeNeveu is in limbo, awaiting a contract, but he’s content to give back along the way. He told the Nanaimo Daily News what his plans were for the current season:
“European hockey is great hockey and there’s a ton of money to be made over there, but if you’re dream is to play in the NHL you have to stay on this side of the pond,” he said, knowing there is a risk that despite being young there is a chance he could be passed over by the game during the lockout, “I feel I’m just coming into my prime now.”
And he’s right. After a historic season for both he and his team (the Oklahoma City Barons), he’ll always think fondly of an incredible run in the AHL:
“Both (Danis) and myself both each had the best professional years of our careers,” he said. “The team we had in front of us was great and we went a long ways to the Western Conference final. Most people would have been happy to get that far, but we were disappointed because we knew we should have went to the finals.”
David refuses to sit and wait. Instead, he returns to a corner of the hockey world that he’s familiar with. The Fernie, BC native will do some coaching with the Junior “A” Nanaimo Clippers:
“A lot of things have changed over the 40 years (the team celebrates 40 seasons this month), but the rink’s the same, the dressing room’s the same and it’s always nice coming back to some familiar haunts,” he said. “I only played here one year, and even still I have so many memories. I love this town so much that we ended up settling here.”
It’s hard not to be impressed with LeNeveu off the ice. And his time will certainly not be wasted as he awaits a telephone call, a fax, email or text from a team needing his services. It’s unfortunate that the timing of things couldn’t keep LeNeveu in OKC for at least another season. He certainly had the on paper numbers to be considered. And much like the impact the Junior A community had on his early playing days, LeNeveu is starting to make an impact wherever he goes. Oklahoma City was no exception. And whatever the next stop might be for David, I’m sure they’ll embrace him as so many have before. He’s just that kind of guy.