New Leafs GM Lance Morey and his son, defenceman Zach, were both at the NDCC for the team’s training camp. Photo: Tyler Harper

Lance Morey takes over as new Nelson Leafs GM

The father of Leafs defenceman Zach Morey has been a junior hockey scout for over three decades

Winning comes secondary to the Nelson Leafs’ new general manager.

Don’t take that the wrong way: Lance Morey is as competitive as anyone. It was just a year ago that the West Kelowna Warriors won the national Junior A championship RBC Cup with Morey as the team’s director of scouting.

But Morey isn’t dreaming of trophies when he’s recruiting players.

“It’s more than just winning at this level,” he says. “It’s about helping the kids become citizens on and off the ice, helping them get on track with their scholastic endeavours and making sure if they have the ability to move onto the next level that we are doing that.”

Morey, who has over three decades experience coaching and scouting for Junior A and major junior teams in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., worked in the background for the Leafs last season. Former goaltenders Billy Gorn and Devin Allen were, for example, each scouted by Morey prior to being acquired by the team.

After the season ended, Morey was offered the GM role by head coach Mario DiBella after Sean Dooley stepped down (Dooley is staying on as an assistant coach). Morey said he and DiBella share hockey sensibilities, which contributed to Morey accepting the job.

“We just have the same philosophy,” says Morey. “We’re kinda old-school guys. We’re on the same wavelength when it comes players and hockey and what you put into it, you get out of it. We have a lot of the same thoughts when it comes to the kind of players we like. It was a good fit.”

It also helped that Morey’s son Zach plays for the team.

Zach, a defenceman who was acquired by the Leafs during the 2015-16 season, gave Nelson a thumbs up after returning to the family’s home in Calgary.

Morey said he’ll be in Nelson more next season now that he’s GM, but he’ll mostly be steering clear of his son.

“I don’t want to ruin the hockey experience for him and I don’t want to be Dad around the rink,” he says. “We had that discussion. For the most part I’ll still try to stay in the background and leave the coaching to the coaches and just do my thing, which is recruiting players and working with the board helping with some idea on how to enhance our program off the ice, and some game-day promotions.”

The Leafs opened training camp Friday at the Nelson and District Community Complex. Morey said he expects about 42 players to take part, which doesn’t include five players who will be away at Junior A camps but could still end up on the Leafs’ roster.

The camp will also include local rep players, who Morey invited to make sure Nelson natives are well represented. Morey said he hates seeing Nelson players competing for other teams.

“I want them to feel like they can be part of the Nelson Leafs program and I feel like it’s our obligation to try to get as many local kids on the team as possible.”

It’s more than just good PR. Nelson native Colum McGauley made the Leafs’ roster out of training camp last year, and ended up being a key contributor on a team that finished the regular season with a 21-21-5 record and went to the second round of the KIJHL playoffs. Morey said he expects McGauley and fellow forward Ryan Piva to each take another step forward this season.

The Leafs’ glaring need will be in net. Billy Gorn is too old to play Junior B hockey now, and Devin Allen has signed with the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Morey, who scouted both Gorn and Allen, said he’s confident Nelson will have a solid No. 1 goaltender by the time the season begins.

Morey said defence will also continue to be a strength. Michael LeNoury is returning to the team, as is Brendan MacKay who showed big improvement throughout the last campaign.

On offence, Morey said he expects Sawyer Hunt will again pivotal to the team’s goal production. Two players he also believes will be key are forwards Jack Karran and Logan Wullum.

“[Karran’s] worked out hard this summer,” said Morey. “He’s come in with the attitude he wants to be one of the best guys. He definitely has the talent to be.”

Wullum, meanwhile, was one of the Leafs’ best acquisitions last season with seven goals and seven assists in 21 games, including another three goals and an assist during nine playoff games.

“How can you not love the kid? He’s not the biggest kid in the world but he plays like he is. He’s fearless. I think him being here the full year and playing like that, it has to rub off on other players. It has to. If you’re six-foot-three and you’re sitting on the bench watching the kid do the things he’s doing, you should be embarrassed if you don’t play the same way.”

Last year was ostensibly a rebuilding year for the Leafs, one that Morey thinks was better than their final record showed. He’s hopeful the work he’s done during the summer pays off for the team in the winter.

“I think this year we’re starting off with a great nucleus. We’ve got some really good players coming in.”

Just Posted

Nelson fire department douses blaze on CPR land

Nelson police are investigating

‘The Columbia River is on fire!’

Fishing columnist Kerry Reed on the great fishing in the Columbia River and Kootenay Lake

LETTERS: Proportional representation debate not balanced

From readers Marty Horswill and Steve Fawcett

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Updated: Coroner investigating death of Trail man

A complicated recovery was required for a man who died in a fall above the Trail hospital

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Most Read