Dennis Skulsky (left) and David Braley wouldn’t have too much in the way of football assets in a couple of seasons without a bit of contract restructring
It may be nothing more than an alarmist viewpoint, but there’s more than just the obvious reason for the Lions to at least be a tad concerned about the fact they only were able to announce a one-year contract extension this week for Travis Lulay.
If the 2013 CFL season was to end without any change to the contract structure of their most valued staff members, the Lions would be without their current starting quarterback, head coach and general manager. The end of contracts worked out with Lulay and Mike Benevides now align with that of Wally Buono. At that point, the team logo would be David Braley’s chequebook.
Buono agreed to his latest extension before stepping aside from his dual role in December so the matter, in the opinion of club president Dennis Skulsky, is a matter of coincidental timing that will all be eventually resolved.
For that matter though, Skulsky’s contract status is up in the air too, at least publicly. The former newspaper publisher, who begins his third season with the Lions, never had the length of his deal disclosed when he joined the club, but said he’s only a handshake with Braley and an extension press release away from maintaining whatever amount of stability is needed.
“All of those things will be looked after,” Skulsky said. “Knowing how these discussions have gone in the past, knowing the kind of people we have in this organization, that’s why there wasn’t panic when we were 0-5 last year. We don’t operate in that kind of a mode.” He could have said the Lions, and for that matter the league, seem to thrive on one-year deals and would have also had a point.
If there was a plan to clean house should Buono decide to leave after the expiration of his current contract, it would be possible, and would have led to a different sort of speculation had last season not ended as it began. But it is a plan which is not evident nor designed by the man in charge.
As for getting Lulay locked up for only one more year, Skulsky was no more disappointed than Buono, which wasn’t much when the club announced his extension earlier this week.
“We got something more than if he was playing out his option,” said Skulsky. “Travis is one of those special gems. We’re going to take full advantage of him and his work in the community. I don’t know that it makes more of a difference if his contract was different.
“We have a plan. He has a plan. Our desire is that those plans meet at the end.” Job security? Don’t need it. As an old boss once said, a shorter leash makes you work more proficiently.
Ring’s still the thing
It might be said that the marketing of their sixth Grey Cup win by the Lions has been better than ever, based at least on the number of appearances the old mug made around the province this time around. The same might also be said, according to those who know, about their sixth Grey Cup ring.
In an era where the only goal is to out-do what has been done before, it would appear as if the Lions are applying the keep-it-simple principle when it comes to the final act of a Grey Cup champion and the construction of a commemorative ring.
There may well be a lavish presentation ceremony to take place for staff and family a couple of days before veterans arrive for training camp this year. But the final ring design has been approved and is getting a thumbs-up from those who have been given a sneak peek.
Central among the themes in the 2011 ring, set in white gold, is a skyline of B.C. Place Stadium on one side, with the marketing slogan used by the club – Pride of All B.C. – on the other.
“They’re clean with a lot of diamonds. “They’re pretty simple,” one who has seen the final design said approvingly. If all goes to the satisfaction of Benevides, the rings will be dispatched June 1 before veterans head to Kamloops and ignored for the next six months.
One thing that isn’t changing with the transition to Benevides from Buono is the need to host an off-season mini-camp as now allowed by league rules. That may not exactly come as a surprise with Buono still in charge of the football operations budget. In the last couple of weeks, the Alouettes, Riders, Ticats and Stampeders have or will hold mini-camp sessions, but the Lions see their traveling weekend tryout camps as being just as productive. Mini-camp sessions were granted as a result of the last CFL collective bargaining agreement and allow for teams to bring in anyone on their roster. What Benevides could benefit from is a provision similar to one in the NFL in which first-year head coaches are allowed an extra three weeks this month to hold mini-camp sessions… Benevides had heard how the league plans to use its referees in 2012 at his first session as head coach while attending the CFL Congress last month, but Thursday his coaching staff received hands-on instruction when director of officiating Tom Higgins made his annual visit to Surrey. The rookie head coach was keen to get first-year defensive line assistant Carl Hairston comfortable with some of the league’s zaniness. The league in March voted to turn down proposals to assess and penalize pass interference differently but Benevides pressed Higgins for a thorough review for 2013, and stricter enforcement of clipping penalties which occur near punt returners. “I think we’re pretty close to being good on most things,” Benevides said.
Around the league: Rolly Lumbala and Kelly Bates of the Lions gave us all a better understanding of how fortunate we are to live in North America when they relayed their experiences from a visit to Haiti. Their work has inspired others. Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Ryan Hinds took up the challenge of helping out with a recent visit to his native Guyana and wrote about his experiences in the Hamilton Spectator, which is definitely worth a look. … More interesting reading was in the Montreal Gazette last week, where an ancient debate about the need to keep the negotiation lists of CFL teams confidential was revived. The paper reported the names of 11 quarterbacks who were on the Als’ 35-man negotiation list as of last month in a story pointing out the obvious fact Anthony Calvillo will eventually have to be replaced. Teams routinely go sideways when the protected names become publicly scrutinized but wonder why they can’t generate more off-season publicity. Clubs say making the lists known to players forces them to make contract offers prematurely, according to league rules… In case it wasn’t initially obvious last week, the announcement by the league that all eight teams spent under the salary cap in 2011 marked a first since the salary management system was introduced in the 2007. The Lions have never been penalized… It started in Hamilton. It’s done in B.C. Now the Eskimos will give it a try and unfurl a giant Canadian flag on the field at Commonwealth Stadium before the singing at home games of O Canada, part of an upgraded fan experience, club officials say… No waiting three years to get into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame. Doug Brown only officially retired last month and this week it was announced he will be inducted in June. Another reason why the Port Moody Blues grad might one day be enshrined elsewhere are his down-to-earth takes which still appear weekly in the Winnipeg Free Press. Brown’s latest piece, which offers a view on the Saints/NFL bounty scandal, is worth reading and linked here… Regina media types were blown over when Odell Willis made himself available last month when he visited the Riders, overlooking the fact it cost Saskatchewan two draft picks to boost their pass rush and obtain him from Winnipeg. Not any more. Willis was front-page news across Saskatchewan today after the club revealed he was charged with a DUI infraction in Atlanta, and on the sports page the heat was on GM Brendan Taman. You could almost hear the laughter in Winnipeg about the former Mayor of Swaggerville (Mayor of Staggerville? blared the Winnipeg Sun) from here.
They said it
Tweets too good to ignore
Jon Cornish, Stamps RB, weighing in on the Stanley Cup playoffs: “I swear some NHL players are brain dead. Not because they’ve had too many concussions; instead because they insist on giving them”
Arland Bruce @Runakoreth, with an apparent message to the Lions about a change to his availability this season that luckily will not take place as a result of events south of the 49th this week: “I will not Participate in Professional Football until Trayvon Martin’s shooter Zimmerman is arrested.
We’re taking next week off, possibly longer, in honour of, well, anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, or maybe the end of the local hockey season. The blog is in down-periscope mode. Fan blogger extraordinaire Brian Wawryshyn of bclionsden.ca has volunteered to mind the store next week.
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