CFL

The Rouge: Can Lions overcome loss of veteran leadership?

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
1/24/2013 3:53:53 PM
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The BC Lions made it clear their plan was to get younger this off-season.

The release of veterans Arland Bruce III and Byron Parker, who were picked up days later by the Montreal Alouettes, was the first move made in line with the new initiative.

The second was a lot more surprising.

With Geroy Simon's trade to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, so too goes 14 years of CFL experience, 12 of which were spent in BC. The Lions also jettisoned 15,787 receiving yards, most in CFL history, in trading the six-time CFL All-Star to the Roughriders.

That said, the move wasn't entirely out of the blue. Simon will turn 38 next season and injuries limited him to 54 catches and 700 yards last year, the first time in 10 years the Maryland product didn't eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

Removing Simon's large salary from the books also helps afford necessary contract extensions that GM Wally Buono had to give out, such as the one given to quarterback Travis Lulay that will keep him in BC through 2015.

Still, Simon is a well-respected veteran in the league and a legend in Vancouver. The slotback is just 29 catches shy of former Alouette Ben Cahoon's CFL-record 1,017 career receptions, a record he'll more than likely break while wearing a green jersey.

The Lions, of course, still have horses in the stable. Third-year non-import Shawn Gore, should he not depart for an NFL opportunity, is a star in the making while others like Nick Moore, Akeem Foster, and Marco Ianuzzi could be ready for bigger roles in BC's offence.

And yet, the departure of Simon, and to a lesser extent Bruce, creates a noticeable leadership void in both the Lions' receiving corps and offence in general.

It is yet to be seen whether these moves will stunt the growth of BC's young talent on offence, or if the potential stars are ready for leading roles.

The Rouge asks: Can the Lions overcome the loss in leadership following the Simon trade and endure their offensive prowess?

Geroy Simon (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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