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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Rick Hansen Secondary School student died in hospital after suffering a medical incident in class on Monday. (File photo)
Abbotsford student dies after medical incident in class

Rick Hansen Secondary School offering additional counselling for students who require it

Stock photo
$93,000 in COVID-19 emergency support available to Abbotsford charities

Applications now open for grants through community foundation

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

The Rotary Club of Chilliwack Book Sale is moves from the Chilliwack Mall to allow for physical distancing. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress file)
Rotary Book Sale moves from Chilliwack Mall to Heritage Park

The hugely-popular book sale is going ahead Oct. 25-31 with pandemic protocols in place

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Officers with the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were at a White Rock home Tuesday (Oct. 20) to assist Vancouver Police Department with execution of a search warrant. (Contributed photo)
ERT, VPD response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read