Former Nelson Leafs defenceman Zach Morey briefly played for the Humboldt Broncos and had been offered a spot on this season’s team. Photo submitted

‘Too terrible to be true’: B.C. player almost returned to the Humboldt Broncos

Zach Morey reflects on a pivotal choice he made

Last year, Zach Morey had a choice. He could play for the Humboldt Broncos or return to the Nelson Leafs.

He’s been thinking a lot lately about the decision he made.

Like many in Canada, the Leafs defenceman has been reeling following the April 6 crash between a semi truck and the Broncos’ team bus that killed 16 people and injured 13 more.

What separates Morey from everyone else, though, is that he could have been on that bus himself.

“It’s eerie. Thinking how both things would have gone different ways, if a couple choices wouldn’t have been so black and white or something happened, that could have been me. It’s kind of a weird, foreboding…,” and here Morey paused to find the words.

“It’s a lot.”

Morey played five exhibition games for the Broncos at the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign. The defenceman had been promised a roster spot, but a coaching change led to his being cut. He ended up playing for the Kimberley Dynamiters before a trade sent him to the Leafs later that season.

At the start of last year, the Broncos coaching staff returned to offer Morey a spot for his final year in junior hockey. He turned them down.

“I was just kind of done with Saskatchewan and I really liked Nelson. The opportunity in Nelson was better than the opportunity to go back and play in the SJHL.”

The Leafs made Morey an assistant captain, and he had a stellar season. There was no reason for him to think about the Broncos again, until last week’s tragedy.

“It took a while to kick in because it just seems too terrible to be true, if that makes any sense,” he said. “Thinking about yourself being in the crash too. It’s one of those things where I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy, and to think that you could have been there just throws you off and makes you think about how lucky you are for making the choices you did.”

For their part, the Leafs have since donated $1,000 to the Broncos. As of publication, $8.5 million has been raised through a GoFundMe campaign for the players and families affected by the crash.

Part of what hit Morey hardest about the crash is how often he and other hockey players his age are on buses. He refers to the bus as a safe space.

“Everybody has their seat, that’s where they sit, everybody jokes around and talks and plays some pranks, has some fun,” said Morey. “It really is just for the boys and it becomes our space, even if it is just for the two hours or the trip to Castlegar or if we’re going five or six hours. That’s ours for as long as it is and we make it our own.”

Morey is too old to play junior hockey now. After the crash, he briefly thought how lucky he was to never have to ride a bus again.

But then he changed his mind.

“A lot of the friendships and a lot of the good times of my junior career all began on the bus,” he said.

Related:

B.C. sees spike in new organ donors after Humboldt tragedy

Trucking company suspended after Humboldt bus crash

‘Heroes to many:’ Support offered to Humboldt students after crash kills 15



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP officers honoured for taking drunk driver off the streets

Constables Brian Kenny, Rob Jackson named to Alexa’s Team

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

MP Karina Gould back to Hill with baby Oliver for electoral reform bill

Gould brought Oliver to work with her as she resumed duties as democratic institutions minister

VIDEO: Footage of 2 shrieking lynx posted by Canadians goes viral

The videos — one shot by a man and his girlfriend — show two lynx sitting face-to-face, shrieking

Teen must repay $37M for starting Oregon wildfire

A teenager who started a major wildfire in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Congressional leaders to review information on Russia probe

Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign

Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Montreal-based travel agency says hundreds of Canadians who were stuck in Cuba since a plane crash last week are returning home

As summit looms, North Korean media return to angry tone

North Korean media are stepping up their rhetorical attacks on South Korea and joint military exercises with the United States

Most Read