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December 3, 2018

Hervey’s Next Step Starts With Coaching Search

BC Lions general manager Ed Hervey before the Eastern semi-final game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

Friday marked the one-year anniversary of his appointment as BC Lions general manager. Yet, Ed Hervey was still marvelling at just how much it rains on the west coast. “We don’t have to shovel this, Ed,” reminded Lions director of communications and fellow former Eskimos staffer Jamie Cartmell during some idol office talk at lunch hour.

Sure, he may now have to ditch the sunglasses for weeks at a time, always have an umbrella within reach and endure a much longer drive to the stadium on game day, but the bottom line? Hervey’s gig still allows him to eat, breathe and sleep football. Who are we kidding though? This man barely sleeps. In a sit-down interview with bclions.com, Hervey took a moment to reflect on his first full year on the west coast.

“It’s been a good year, positive year. I’ve been embraced by not only within the organization by the staff, but here in this community,” he said.

“It’s been a typical type of football year where you come in and you learn a few things, you learn (about) the people you’re around, but everyone wants to win. The fans want to win, they want to see success and it seems like there is a high level of energy in Vancouver, in this market and within this building for wanting to continue the success that has been in place for many years under Wally. I’m just excited about taking the opportunity to continue on and as I’ve stated, the first year has been great.”

More than once we have documented that 2018 featured more ups and downs than your average rollercoaster. That has the tendency to happen when you have a high amount of player turnover like Hervey’s squad did.

Next season could feature more of the same, especially with no less than 35 of his players eligible to hit free agency in February. Although it has barely been three weeks since the season came to an end in Hamilton, the GM has a pretty firm idea of how he wants to build the 2019 version of his Lions.

“Every team is faced with a large number of free agents. I think that’s been the case over the last couple of years with the amount of one-year contracts,” Hervey explained.

“The players that we want, we will get that are in this roster. Those who want to stay, that we want to be with, they’ll work out. There will be players that will go elsewhere, there will be players that will be moved. That’s just part of the cycle. At the end of the day, we want to get the best football team, the best players that we can put on the field for ourselves to be successful and to contend for a championship.”

He already has locked up two key pieces for next season: defensive end Odell Willis and an integral member of the Canadian contingent, linebacker/special teamer Jordan Herdman, And of course, whoever is strapping on the orange next season will be following the identity of a new sideline boss. Hervey will soon start talking to possible candidates for the 26th head coach in franchise history. Like any detailed GM, Hervey has cast a wide net and put no real timetable on choosing his guy. And he knows the exact attributes this franchise needs.

“The next head coach has to be someone that is organized, someone who has a big vision for what he would want the football team to look like, as far as on the field, have a great understanding of all facets; offence, defence, special teams.”

– GM Ed Hervey

“But I think the key ingredient is leadership. We want the leadership component and being able to handle adversity. We face adversity all the time. You have to be the kind of leader that can get people to follow you. It’s not just the players. They have to have a vision and a presence about them that gets the organization to follow behind them, as well as the fan base. It’s going to be important as we look to continue on success in this market that we hire a head coach that understands this position is not just being a head coach, but also being a spokesperson, being a pillar of this community, embracing this community and going out with an understanding that our main focus is to go out there and be successful; winning games, winning lots of games and contend for championships, but also embracing the community aspect of this great city as well.”

BC Lions general manager Ed Hervey before the Eastern semi-final game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON on Sunday, November 11, 2018. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

Indeed, the standard set by Wally Buono when it comes to being an ambassador for the club both on and off the field will be a baton the next guy will have to carry as well. Hervey plans to interview over a half-dozen candidates and made it clear in his season wrap up press conference he is seeking a CFL guy through and through; someone who has cut his teeth north of the border and knows what this unique league is all about, just like the GM himself.

“Obviously we have to be able to find that person; someone that I can work with, someone that we can work together and build, someone that understands the development of the roster and (who is) willing to play young players,” he said.

“Those are critical to the success, as I see it, for us moving forward. Especially as you see every year with the high turnover of the roster. We have to be able to develop our own players.”

And that annual adventure of finding some of those unknown gems at various free agent camps south of the border will once again be an integral piece of this 2019 puzzle.

Hervey, the next head coach and everyone else involved will do their due diligence whatever the situation may be. And who cares if he has to use an umbrella from time to time?

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com