B.C. set to release union leader Solomon Elimimian

The B.C. Lions have told veteran linebacker Solomon Elimimian he will be released.

The 32-year-old Elimimian has played nine years in Vancouver but suffered a wrist injury that limited him to just four games last season. He took a pay cut before the 2018 campaign to stay in B.C. and has been a West all-star four of the last six seasons, most recently in 2017. He’s been the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player twice and was MOP in 2014.

The news was first reported by TSN’s Dave Naylor.

While the Lions will no doubt argue that this is a football move – TSN’s Farhan Lalji reported in February that B.C. might be looking to deal him – Elimimian is a CFLPA executive and a member of the union’s negotiating team that is currently embroiled in a contentious labour negotiations with the league over a new collective bargaining agreement. He has been one of the most high-profile and outspoken union members, touting the CFLPA’s strength and saying that players wouldn’t shut up and play football.

Releasing Elimimian with training camp potentially less than a month away will no doubt be seen by some as a punitive move intended to punish a union leader while sending a message to players about the perils of not reporting to training camp. The CFLPA has told players not to make arrangements to report to camp and recently voted 97 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary.

Elimimian is widely respected across the CFL and news of his release is unlikely to sit well with players already focussed on what they perceive as a lack of respect from the league. Seeing an elite player and an elder statesman get tossed aside by the only CFL team he’s ever played for is unlikely to sit well with a membership that is already spoiling for a fight.