LeLacheur warns Esks

Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur has put his struggling team on notice. (QMI Agency...

Eskimos president and CEO Rick LeLacheur has put his struggling team on notice. (QMI Agency file/Jason Franson)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Effective immediately, Richie Hall is coaching from the edge of a cliff.

Until further notice, GM Danny Maciocia is out of job security.

Beginning Tuesday, Edmonton Eskimos' players, especially the really big ones who are expected to play physical football with emotion, will begin walking the plank.

The entire organization was put on notice Monday, with nobody's job remaining safe past Friday's game against the B.C. Lions by president and CEO Rick LeLacheur when he read the riot act at a press gathering at Commonwealth Stadium.

"Everyone's job is on the line including mine," he said.

"The game on Saturday was a total embarrassment, an embarrassment to the players, coaches and management. Nobody in the organization is untouchable. Let's see where we are after Week 5," he said of the future of GM Maciocia and head coach Hall.

"We know the fans are mad. I'm mad, too. I don't know any fans who could be anywhere near happy right now.

"There are a lot of mistakes out there and not a lot of emotion. There are a lot of players playing pretty soft. There's just no excuse for being 0-4. They have 60 minutes Friday to show how they can play.

"Danny and Richie understand that winning is the only option. There are 14 games remaining in the season. We are certainly not throwing in the towel."

While the Eskimos changed general managers just prior to the start of a season once (Norm Kimball taking over for Vic Schwenk due to illness) and fired a head coach after Labour Day in Calgary once (Pete Kettela being removed with a 4-4 record the year after the five-in-a-row run with Jackie Parker taking over), there is absolutely no precedent for early-season removals.

Even Neill Armstrong wasn't fired when he went 0-5 to start the season in 1965.

LeLacheur said he wasn't going to give anybody a vote of confidence. "In sports it's a kiss of death when you give somebody a vote of confi- dence.

"We've talked for four weeks.

"No more talk!

"Don't tell me anymore. Just show me.

"We need to play with some emotion and play with some toughness. It's just not acceptable," he said of the 47-21 loss in Winnipeg to the Blue Bombers which dropped the Eskimos record to 0-4, the first time the team has recorded such a disastrous beginning to a season since 1965.

"Clearly they were not ready to play. Let's see how they play at 7:08 p.m. Friday. They better be ready to play," he said of the team.

"That first quarter was a total embarrassment," said LeLacheur.

While Maciocia and Hall were quite clearly placed on the hot seat, the first moves are going to be made on the field.

In the opener against the Lions, the blocking by the offensive line was abysmal. And Helio Castroneves had more good blocks than the offensive linemen in Sunday's Honda Edmonton Indy than Saturday's CFL mismatch.

LeLacheur prefers to let the football people look after football and dedicate his efforts to looking after the business side, which has been a sensational success with the $110 million of improvements to Commonwealth Stadium and a Grey Cup game which became the first ever to be sold out before Labour Day much less prior to the first preseason game.

But Monday he showed he's not just sitting in the counting room taking violin lessons while Edmonton burns with an NHL team that finished last and a CFL team currently dead last in the league as well.

But in reality this IS about business.

An 0-4 record is not good. Drawing fewer than 30,000 for the next two home games, the Lions here Friday and the Toronto Argos the following Friday, would not be good, either. The Eskimos insulted their fans with no entertainment value at all in drawing 33,708 for their preseason game and, despite extra season ticket holders because of the Grey Cups, watched their attendance drop 32,439 and 30,048 for the regular-season games.

But the biggest thing here, and credit LeLacheur for getting it, is not to choose to look the other way and pretend there is no crisis.

It was time to panic a week before and not doing something like this then delivering a message to the players that going 0-3 was acceptable.

Eskimos' fans needed to hear tough talk from the top with plenty of content, some action and a real belief that if things don't change, Macioicia and Hall will take the fall and not make it to sit in the brand-new offices currently under construction above that plush new dressing room where the softest team in the league currently resides.


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