The pre-season churn continues as the Edmonton Eskimos have handed general manager Ed Hervey the mitten after four seasons in the big chair.
Hervey saw Edmonton through a tumultuous period of CFL football. In 2013 they had an atrocious season, with four wins to their credit and a fourth-place finish in a four-team West division. The third place B.C. Lions took the playoff spot by a wide margin with a strong 11-7 season.
But Edmonton was the surprise of the following season as Hervey put Chris Jones in charge. The 2014 Eskimos took 12 wins, a home playoff game, and succumbed only to the seemingly unstoppable Calgary Stampeders in the West final.
And Edmonton wasn’t done yet: 2015 was the team’s best season in more than a decade, seeing them take first in the West with a commanding 13-5 record and a Grey Cup championship to boot.
2016 was less of a banner season for Hervey and his management team. But when Chris Jones and most of the coaching staff fled to Regina, almost everyone predicted doom and gloom for Edmonton; instead, they turned in a creditable 10-8 record and a rare crossover win in the East division semi-final against Hamilton. Despite their fourth place finish in the West, it would be hard to argue that Edmonton had a poor season.
So what made the Eskimos brass pull the trigger on Hervey?
According to the Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Eskimos president Len Rhodes pinpointed the problem as contract issues. The team brass was tight-lipped about whether it was the term or the money, but as Hervey entered the last year of the contract neither party was moving on an extension.
But it’s possible that the move had more to do with how Hervey, and therefore the team, related to the media and fans. Hervey notoriously closed the locker room to media when he took over the team, forcing them to conduct interviews on the field. It’s possible that, in an era of increasing access to personalities, the upper management was unwilling to limit their exposure to the masses, and Hervey continued to be an obstacle to that.
Edmonton has now placed Paul Jones, executive director of player personnel, in the GM role, and retained Jason Maas as head coach. We’ll see how things shake out for the Eskimos as we get closer to the start of the season.