Updated: June 4, 2014 (with LeNeveu quotes, more article links below and late pregame update)
Over the course of four years with an AHL team you see a lot of players pass through and while you remember them all, there are always a few who will leave a lasting impression on fans, and Fernie, British Columbia goaltender David LeNeveu “Lenny” is one of those guys. LeNeveu was in OKC during the 2011-12 season and if you ask any longtime fans about LeNeveu the first thing you hear is “Oh, I wish Dave was still here!” That season was almost magical for the team and the fans in OKC. The Barons held top place in the AHL for much of the season, winning the West Division Championship and they went all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated from the Calder Cup Playoffs. And Dave LeNeveu was a large part of the team’s success that season. LeNeveu along with Yann Danis was one of the best goaltender tandems in the AHL that season and they both ranked near the top with the likes of Ben Scrivens, Ben Bishop, Jeremy Smith and Dustin Tokarski.
Last season while playing with the Linz Black Wings in the Austrian league (EBEL) LeNeveu sustained an eye injury after a slap shot puck to the mask from Swede Eric Johansson and the pressure from the puck hitting the mask caused injury to his eye. As the news filtered out to OKC fans there was a huge outpouring of concern, and fans and teammates recorded their “best wishes” and “Get Well Soon” greetings and passed it along via social media. LeNeveu received treatment and returned within less than a month to lead his team into the playoffs through the Semifinals.
Following his stint in Austria, Dave LeNeveu and his family chose to remain in North America this season and he signed with the South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL affiliate of the Providence and Boston Bruins. He only played 8 games for the Stingrays and 1 for the Providence Bruins before the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers AHL team, nabbed him and signed him for the remainder of the season. In late January the New York Rangers signed him to a year contract after Henrik Lundqvist was injured and he backed up Cam Talbot the night of January 21st when the Rangers faced the New York Islanders.
|2013-14||South Carolina Stingrays||ECHL||8||1.64||.940|
|New York Rangers||NHL||0||–||–|
|Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||22||2.46||.915|
News filtering out of New York Rangers practice Sunday morning indicated that Cam Talbot, the Rangers backup to Lundqvist, is out with a day-to-day injury according to Alain Vigneault. Every morning since has become a Cam Talbot vigil — media and fans alike watching to see if he returns to the ice, and reporting enmasse if he is missing:
June 2, 2014 — Per Katie Strang this morning: “Cam Talbot, out with an undisclosed injury, not on the ice today for second straight day. Not immediately clear whether he’ll travel to LA”
June 3, 2014 — at New York Ranger’s practice in Los Angeles.
“It’s been a crazy year,” LeNeveu explained to New York Media, “To come in here and enjoy the run with them has been unbelievable, a great experience.”
When ask about this season LeNeveu said, “We wanted to come back to North America but it took a while to get the contract we were looking for. We took advantage of a late run in Hartford, just missed the playoffs. I just didn’t want to quit playing. Thankfully, I was able to come up, still practice every day and stay in condition. It’s been a ride. This team’s not done yet, either.”
The New York Rangers will play their first game of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday which could be ample time for Talbot to recover from his undisclosed injury. Here’s hoping Talbot well — I don’t wish any player an injury — but if you are an OKC fan there’s a part of you cheering for the Rangers’ Black Ace goaltender David LeNeveu to be on the roster for a Stanley Cup Final game, even if it is only sitting on the bench. How great would that be!?
Once again OKC sends Dave LeNeveu their best wishes and support! Way to go, Dave! We’re cheering for you!
LATE UPDATE 6/4/14: Official word from the New York Rangers is that David LeNeveu will back up Henrik Lundqvist tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles. Alain Vigneault, at today’s pregame press conference, had this to say about LeNeveu:
More on the New York Rangers’ Black Aces and David LeNeveu:
- “A Crazy year” for David LeNeveu, the New York Rangers’ Black Ace by Patricia Teter (at Tend the Farm)
- “Black Aces” Support Ranger Playoff Run by Bob Crawford (Hartford Wolf Pack)
- Former Stingrays Goaltender David LeNeveu Joins the New York Rangers Stanley Cup Run by Joseph Zakrzewski (South Carolina Stingrays)
- David LeNeveu’s one-year journey from the ECHL to the Stanley Cup Finals by Mike Ashmore
- Ex-Black-Wing LeNeveu schielt auf den Stanley Cup (at Nachrichten.at)
The term “Black Ace” refers to the extra players a team carries in case of injuries to their roster. An Ace has to be ready at all times since an injury can pull them into the lineup on a moment’s notice. I’ve always loved the term — it signifies a lot of what hockey is about — hope and a great deal of luck. The original hockey term had a slightly different meaning dating back to the days of Eddie Shore and his Springfield Indians and it is well described by Don Cherry (one of Shore’s Black Aces) in Grapes: A Vintage View of Hockey by Don Cherry with Stan Fischler:
“Anyone who crossed Shore became a ‘Black Ace,’ one of the many extras he kept on the squad – but wouldn’t dress for punitive purposes. The Black Aces had to work extra hard in practice and were always available to play should any of the regulars enrage Shore even more. In addition to scrimmaging with the team, the Black Aces were required to do odd jobs around the arena such as painting seats, selling programs, making popcorn, and blowing up hundreds of balloons before the ice shows.”