The Nelson Leafs continue to make changes as the defending Kootenay Conference Champs prepare for another run at the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League title.
Following the bombshell resignation last week of Adam DiBella after the head coach was hit with a season-ending suspension by the KIJHL, Leafs General Manager Lance Morey continued to shake of the franchise sending Nelson native Joe Davidson and Marko Pavlovic to the Osoyoos Coyotes in a multi-player trade prior to the January 10, Junior Hockey roster freeze deadline.
Coming back to Nelson is forwards Crae Dawson and Kieran Christianson along with defenceman Charlie Lockhart.
Morey then sent Lockhart on to the Fernie Ghostriders in return for future considerations.
“Both Crae Dawson and Kieran Christianson will bring a skilled high tempo game to the Leafs,” Morey told The Nelson Daily the day after inking interim coach Briar McNaney to a deal to skipper the Leafs for the remainder of the season.
“Crae is a very skilled and talented player who we had on our radar for some time now.”
“(And) Kieran is a more physical player who really just needs to play nightly,” Morey added.
“He is a good skater and I feel he likely can help the team in a number of areas.”
Morey said now that the signing of McNaney as his new coach will help both new players with their skill development and confidence.
Of course, in any deal, something must be exchanged to complete the transaction.
And one of those key pieces came with Nelson Minor Hockey grad Joe Davidson going to the South Okanagan.
“The situation with Joe Davidson was a more personal one for him and in saying that he had been a proud Leaf for nearly four seasons,” said Morey when asked about the 6’3”, 200-pound winger.
“I felt it was in his best interests to help him move on. I hated to see him go but this is what was best for Joe.”
As for Pavlovic, Morey said the 6’7”, 215-pound forward had his struggles with the Leafs over the last season and a half.
Morey said he asked Pavlovic if we would look at moving him if the right deal was available.
Morey said Pavlovic agreed to getting a fresh start.
“I was sad to see both boy’s leave, and we wish both Marko and Joe the best as they continue their journey in Osoyoos,” Morey said.
Morey said it didn’t take long for McNaney to get started with the Leafs, having arrived in Nelson this week to begin his coaching duties.
McNaney will be put to the test when Nelson travels to Grand Forks Friday to meet the Neil Murdoch leading Border Bruins in a divisional clash.
Grand Forks leads Nelson by one point in Murdoch standings.
The Leafs, coming off a 1-2 trip last weekend through the Doug Birks Division, return home Saturday to host West Kootenay rival Castlegar Rebels at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena.
ICE CHIPS: Nelson still has multiple players out of the line serving suspensions following the December 31, 2022 line braw at the NDCC Arena against Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Forwards Hunter Sperle and Leighton Partington and defencemen Tyler Seminoff and Ryland Mennie continue to serve eight-game suspensions following the dustup. All players will be eligible to return to action January 24. . . . Joe Davidson wasted no time in getting familiar with the Osoyoos teammates, scoring twice and adding four assists in a 12-1 romp of Kelowna Chiefs Wednesday in the South Okanagan town. Marko Pavlovic had two assists in his first game with the Coyotes.