The Edmonton Eskimos plan to announce their new general manager at 4 p.m. Eastern Monday, but the cat's already out of the bag; TSN's Dave Naylor reports that the team is going with Ed Hervey. (Update: The team confirmed Hervey's hire at their scheduled press conference.) Hervey shone as a receiver for the Eskimos from 1999-2006 and has worked in the front office for most of the time since, serving as the team's head scout for the last four years. Those organizational connections and ties to Edmonton will surely appease all of those upset by former general manager Eric Tillman's purported lack of involvement in the community. However, the crucial question is how well Hervey will do at constructing a winning roster.
There are plenty of reasons to believe that Hervey may be a good fit here. He's found some excellent players as the Eskimos' head scout over the last four years, so he clearly has an eye for talent. His dominant and long-lasting career as a player also may help: Hervey's well-known and generally well-respected around the league, and he certainly knows plenty about the CFL. Perhaps most importantly, he's worked with Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed over the last couple of years, so they'll both have an idea of what the other wants. In most CFL cities, the general manager hires the coach, but the Eskimos made it extremely clear before hiring a general manager that they would be keeping Reed around (a curious place to make a strong stand from this perspective, as many of their 2012 issues seemed to be on the coaching side). With a general manager brought in from outside, that could be a potential source of conflict; with this internal hire, the familiarity Hervey and Reed have with each other may enable them to get on the same page and work together to build a strong team.
Success is never assured in the CFL, however, and there are some reasons the Hervey hire may not turn out as well as the Eskimos would like. For one thing, while all Hervey's community ties and history with the franchise may appeal to the Edmonton organization, they really don't have a substantial impact on his ability to find and bring in top talent. A remarkable playing career doesn't necessarily make you any better at constructing a solid roster. That doesn't mean Hervey won't be able to do that; it just means all his history with the organization is going to be a rather moot point if he can't build a successful team.
Further to that point, while Hervey's received solid reviews for his work as the Eskimos' head scout, it's notable that he doesn't have a huge amount of experience there, and he has even less experience in the other aspects of a general manager's job (contract negotiations, trades, the draft, etc). Hervey's four seasons as a head scout certainly will help him, but that's awfully limited front-office experience compared to other general managers around the league. (It's notable he does have brief experience as part of a general manager tandem with Dan McKinnon in 2010 between Danny Maciocia's July 31 firing and Eric Tillman's Sept. 14 hiring, but those are days most in green and gold would probably rather forget.) Experience isn't everything, of course, and it's quite possible Hervey will prove to be a great fit as the Eskimos' general manager. In the end, though, it will be by his record that he shall be judged, not his history with the franchise or his connections with the community.