Edmonton Eskimos’ general manager Ed Hervey stands on the sidelines before a CFL football game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on June 28, 2014. (The Canadian Press)

After 18 seasons in Edmonton, Hervey settling in as B.C. Lions general manager

Former Eskimos player, scout and GM replaces Wally Buono

It hasn’t taken Ed Hervey long to get used to his new colours.

Hervey became the B.C. Lions general manager Nov. 30, less than eight months after being fired by the Edmonton Eskimos. That ended Hervey’s 18-year association with the franchise as a player, scout and GM.

“Oh yeah, I look good in orange,” Hervey said with a chuckle during a telephone interview following the CFL president and GM meetings in Banff. “I was fortunate to be in Edmonton for as long as I was and take nothing but great memories from there and had some exciting memories (three Grey Cup wins).

“But I’m also happy to be a part of the B.C. Lions. I’m looking forward to the days ahead and hopefully the success that comes with it.”

Hervey, 44, replaces Wally Buono, who’ll remain the Lions’ vice-president of football operations and head coach for the 2018 season. Buono has the most head-coaching Grey Cup victories (five) and regular-season wins (266) in league history, but B.C. (7-11) finished last in the West Division last year and missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons.

It was certainly a dismal season for the Lions, who were 3-6-0 at home, 4-5-0 on the road and 3-7-0 within the West Division. B.C. often shot itself in the foot, leading the CFL in turnover ratio (-19), sacks allowed (49), quarterback pressures (141) and interceptions (28).

Quarterback Jonathon Jennings also had a down year. After passing for 5,226 yards and 27 TDs in 2016, the 25-year-old threw for 3,539 yards, 16 TDs and a career-high 19 interceptions last season.

There were bright spots.

Receivers Bryan Burnham (81 catches, 1,202 yards, seven TDs) and Manny Arceneaux (100 catches, 1,137 yards, six TDs) were among the league’s best while running back/returner Chris Rainey led all players with 3,181 combined yards. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian had a CFL-record 144 tackles and rookie Ty Long was the top punter (47.9 yards) and made 39-of-44 field goals (88.6 per cent).

Hervey doesn’t believe he has to overhaul B.C.’s roster, but admits change is inevitable.

“There’ll be players who want to go to other teams because it’s closer to their homes and there’ll be players we’ll want to bring in because they bring a different element to our team,” Hervey said. “We’re far from an overhaul but I think like any team we’ll make changes but they’ll be to improve areas we felt we lacked in last season.”

B.C. has signed Arceneaux and Canadian offensive lineman Cody Husbands to contract extensions but still has 20 players slated to hit the free-agent market Feb. 13. Hervey is hopeful he can get others signed before that time.

One pending free agent is veteran quarterback Travis Lulay. The 34-year-old was solid in place of Jennings before suffering a season-ending knee injury in September.

“He’s progressing well,” Hervey said. “Travis is a fighter and competitor and will obviously put in all the time to rehab and make sure he’s 100 per cent when he’s ready to go.

“If it’s a case where he’d like to come back, we’d love to have him back. But we’ll take our time to make sure a) he wants to b) he’s healthy and c) just make sure all the dominos fall into place as far as making sure we do what’s best for our team.”

There’s plenty riding on the Lions resuming their winning ways. Attendance at B.C. Place Stadium is lagging and the club has had a reduced presence in its market.

Owner David Braley wants to sell the franchise but doesn’t expect it to happen before the end of 2018. And after this season, Hervey will have to find Buono’s coaching successor.

“I can only focus on the responsibilities in front of me right now,” Hervey said. “That’s trying to put the best product we can on the field to make sure we’re competitive … and working hand in hand with Wally to make sure we deliver the kind of team our fans expect and our players would want to play on.

“If we’re able to do our jobs and everyone’s on the same page, we’ll have positive days and see where we’re at when the dust settles.”

Hervey’s departure from Edmonton was surprising given the Eskimos were 40-32 during his tenure as GM and captured the ’15 Grey Cup. But president Len Rhodes cited two reasons for the move: an impasse in contract negotiations — Hervey was in the final year of his deal — and philosophical differences, most notably regarding team access.

Hervey was portrayed publicly as being difficult to work with and someone who had strained relationships with some Eskimos players and club officials, including Rhodes, as well as former CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge.

“That’s just part of the game, things are said,” Hervey said. “No one will ever know what happened, I’m not going to go down that road as far as what happened.

“That chapter is closed. I’m just looking forward to continuing my career with the B.C. Lions.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Local athletes prepare for BC Summer Games

Twenty-one local young athletes will head to the BC Summer Games next month

Cozy Bay to close

Summerland seafood restaurant’s lease will not be renewed

Kelowna culinary student cooks her way to Italy

Okanagan College’s Erin MacDougall has won an expenses-paid trip after winning cooking competition

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Mabel Lake Road roll over claims life

Armstrong man died in hospital after single vehicle roll over June 18

Thunder, strong winds possible for Okanagan

Environment Canada released the special weather statement Sunday afternoon

Missing dog from high velocity Kelowna car crash found

Jewels is recovering in the comfort of her home

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Paul Bennett was ‘a champion for the sport,’ team manager says

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Most Read