The Nelson Leafs have removed the interim tag from Briar McNaney’s job description.
The team announced Friday it has signed McNaney on to continue as head coach into the 2023-24 season. McNaney was hired in January to replace Adam DiBella, who had resigned following a Dec. 31 line brawl that led to a season-long suspension for the former Leafs coach.
McNaney said Friday a recent encounter with a fan at a coffee shop factored in his decision to commit to the Leafs.
“I had a random fan come up and sit with me and just start talking hockey and about the Leafs and how much they love it. And that’s the moment right there that I knew I wanted to come back.”
The 30-year-old has plenty of experience in the KIJHL.
He played five seasons in the league prior to being hired as an assistant coach with the Columbia Valley Rockies in 2017. McNaney was promoted to the Rockies’ head coaching job in 2020, and made general manager in 2022.
Last year he left the Rockies for a short stint as an assistant coach with the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League before signing on with the Leafs.
McNaney has the Leafs on a four-game winning streak heading into the playoffs, which begin Friday at home to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. He said he’s excited to build up the Leafs through next season.
“It’s very exciting. I’m proud of everything I’ve done in the past and I’m proud of the small bit of work that I’ve done here so far. And I think everybody from the top down right down to the players can all say the same thing.”
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