B.C. Lions GM Ed Hervey has plan for busy off-season

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal

Tears welled in Wally Buono’s eyes as he contemplated what it’s meant to be part of the CFL for nearly half a century. The 68-year-old, who’s seldom at a loss for words, took time to compose himself before answering.

“Why me?” the B.C. Lions’ longtime coach and vice-president of football operations said simply, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.

“I’ve been blessed guys. God has been good to me. I keep asking him ‘Why me?’ And I still don’t know why.”

It was an emotional farewell for Buono on Thursday as he took questions in his last press conference as a CFL head coach. But he says he leaves the Lions in good hands under general manager Ed Hervey.

“I thought I was driven, I thought I was focused. But I think in a lot of ways, he surpasses even myself,” Buono said. ”He’s is going to work tirelessly to make this organization into a championship organization.”

The Lions’ season ended Sunday with a crushing 48-8 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal. The defeat marked the end of an era for the organization, as Buono is retiring from football after 46 years in the CFL as a player, coach, general manager and vice-president.

Scouring the league for Buono’s replacement as head coach will be just one task on Hervey’s to-do list this off season.

The general manager said he’s looking for someone who’s committed to winning and creating a championship environment. He’d also like the next coach to come from the CFL.

“I believe that we cut our teeth in this league for these opportunities,” Hervey said. “There are guys in this league that are committed to this league and deserve the opportunity to grow in this league.”

Despite Sunday’s loss, Hervey said the Lions beat expectations this year, coming back from a 3-6 start to clinch the crossover spot and secure a playoff position.

The ups and downs of the season will help the players who stay on to grow and develop an expectation to win, he added.

Hervey doesn’t expect a “massive overhaul” of the Lions roster, but said there are areas where the team needs to improve.

READ MORE: Wally Buono exits CFL, stinging from painful playoff loss

“Speaking candidly, we need to be more dynamic in some areas, we need more speed in some areas, and I’d like to be longer and more athletic in other areas,” he said.

Some empty spots will be filled during free agency, during which the club will be “extremely aggressive.”

“I’d like the B.C. Lions to be the first choice for ever free agent,” Hervey said.

The Lions will also keep a “core group” of players and build a foundation around them.

“At the end of the day, it’s the players that we feel can help us build a championship culture, which will eventually turn into championship-level play, and hopefully by the end of all of it, there will be championships won,” he said.

The general manager declined to say which players he’s looking at hold on to and whether that group could include current Lions quarterbacks Travis Lulay or Jonathon Jennings.

The pair will be free agents and both say they have not yet discussed their futures with the Lions’ front office.

Lulay, who battled injuries this season, said on Tuesday that he needs to sit down and think about whether he still wants to play football.

“It does take a toll, putting in all that extra time and energy and effort into just being on the field,” said the 35-year-old. “Right now, the energy levels are depleted. I mean, I really left it all out there and a lot of guys feel that way.”

Lulay threw for 2,494 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 12 games this season. Jennings put up 1,628 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 games.

The potential to upgrade at quarterback could be made in free agency, especially if stars Bo Levi Mitchell and Mike Reilly hit the market. Hervey has a connection to Reilly from the GM’s time in Edmonton.

The core of the roster knows what it takes to win, said wide receiver Bryan Burnham who led the Lions in receiving this season, with 67 catches for 1,029 yards and nine touchdowns.

The 28-year-old is headed to free agency and said he’s looking for an opportunity to win a championship.

“That’s why we all play the game,” he said. “I have faith that Ed (Hervey) is going to put together a championship team and it’s something I would love to be a part of, but things don’t always work out the way you want it to. So we’re going to see how this goes.”

Linebacker Solomon Elimimian still has a year left on his contract with the Lions, but noted that unexpected things can happen in the CFL off season.

“Regardless of who you are, it’s always a one year deal,” said Elimimian, who spent much of the season on the sidelines with a wrist injury. ”I don’t think anyone’s secure, regardless of what they may think.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Return of the undead: Victoria Zombie Walk hits the streets

Hundreds of zombies expected for annual event Oct. 26 in Centennial Square

Access: A day in the life using a wheelchair in Victoria

Black Press Media teamed up with the Victoria Disability Resource Centre to learn about barriers

Popular food truck to open restaurant on Oak Bay Avenue

Dead Beetz Burgers adds brick-and-mortar restaurant

Victoria retirement community celebrates 403 years of life

Four women over 100 celebrate at The Wellesley

CRD aims to reduce solid waste going to Hartland Landfill by a third by 2030

District launches public engagement campaign for waste reduction strategies

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Greta Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta, but doesn’t talk oilsands

Swedish teen was met with some oil and gas industry supporters who came in a truck convoy

Scheer denies spreading ‘misinformation’ in predicting unannounced Liberal taxes

Conservative leader had claimed that a potential NDP-Liberal coalition could lead to a hike in GST

Chilliwack man pleads guilty in crash that killed pregnant woman

Frank Tessman charged under Motor Vehicle Act for accident that killed Kelowna school teacher

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Most Read