Coaches Dave McLellan, Greg Andrusak 'part ways' with Nelson Leafs
During his first interview with The Nelson Daily in August of 2014, Leaf coach and GM Dave McLellan said he took the position with the Heritage City franchise Nelson is “run more like a Junior A franchise.”
McLellan may have been right as the Leafs decided to make a decision more reserved for ownership in the BC Hockey League than the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League by “parting ways” with coaches Dave McLellan and Greg Andursak Wednesday morning.
Leaf president John Dooley was unavailable for comment as he traveled to Spokane Wednesday with the team.
However, in an emailed statement to The Nelson Daily, Lauren Suomi, Marketing Coordinator with the Nelson Leafs Hockey Society said:
“I can confirm that at this time, the Leafs have parted ways with Dave McLellan and Greg Andrusak.”
“President John Dooley is in Spokane, accompanying the team on their scheduled road trip along with Sean Dooley, who is standing in as coach,” Suomi added.
“In reference to other media reports about this story, our full statement will be released when our president returns to the country.”
Those media reports, which had the head coach slamming the Leafs board, said McLellan and Andrusak “told the board they were stepping down Wednesday morning.”
McLellan leaves the Leafs in a similar way to finding the job with the Green and White.
The 50-year-old skipper was parachuted into the Leafs coaching position in August of 2014 after the Nelson’s top candidate to replace former coach and GM, Frank Maida, Matt Hughes, decided to dump the Leafs for another job in July.
Hughes, who won the job over McLellan and two other candidates, took a director’s position with the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna leaving the Leafs without a coach and GM days before the start of training camp.
To say the Leafs were in panic mode at the time after Hughes informed the team was an understatement of the brief KIJHL season.
However, the Leafs were optimistic McLellan, with Junior A hockey experience, had the tools, and contacts, to find the right players when Nelson opened camp for the 2014-15 season
McLellan had BCHL experience on staff with the Burnaby (now Coquitlam) Express from April 2005 to February 2010 before heading the coaching staff in 2007.
He then coached the Delta Ice Hawks for two seasons where he took the franchise to the Pacific Junior Hockey League title in 2012.
Before coming to Nelson McLellan coached in the North Vancouver Minor Hockey system.
However, returning the Leafs back to an elite KIJHL team never materialized as Nelson finished fourth last season, losing to Beaver Valley in the first round of the Murdoch Division playoffs.
This season Leaf fans were optimistic with a full off season of recruiting McLellan — finishing his time in Nelson with a 37-35-0-6-5 record — would restore the Leafs to the top of the Murdoch Division with the heavyweights like Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Castlegar Rebels.
But after a solid start, the Leafs began sliding, losing 14 of 17 games since October 31 — the most embarrassing loss coming December 2 on the road against Castlegar 9-0.
During the slide McLellan had a revolving door on the Leafs dressing room as players were released and signed on almost a weekly basis.
Nelson was able to snap a recent seven-game losing streak Tuesday at home, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to edge Grand Forks 4-3 in overtime.
Wednesday in Spokane, Nelson was trying to make it two straight over the Braves, a team Nelson had yet to lose against this season.
The plan now for the Leafs executive is to then find a coach and GM during the Christmas break and before the Leafs return to face Beaver Valley in a two-game, home-and-home series beginning December 30 in Fruitvale.