MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes have a long shopping list for the off-season, starting with a new contract for head coach Khari Jones.
Team president Patrick Boivin says the Alouettes have "every expectation" of re-signing the free-agent coach to a long-term deal.
Both parties say they are finalizing the details and the agreement should be announced in the next few days, despite the fact that the Alouettes are currently owned by the CFL.
"Not only is Khari the right guy for the job, this team deserves a certain level of stability on the field, the sidelines and the office," Boivin said at a press conference Friday morning. "The continuity, the stability, unfortunately have not been part of our MO for a number of years now.
"Not only do I believe it’s essential to what we want to accomplish here, ultimately it’s essential to the DNA of any championship-aspiring team. You’re not going to be able to compete and establish yourself with eternal turnovers."
With no previous head coaching experience, Jones led the Alouettes to a 10-8 record and their first CFL playoff appearance in five years.
Montreal lost 37-29 to the Edmonton Eskimos in the East Division semifinal last weekend.
The 48-year-old from Indiana took over from Mike Sherman six days before the start of the regular season, and quickly earned the trust and respect of players and fans.
He is the seventh Alouettes head coach since the franchise last won the Grey Cup in 2010.
"I’m very excited about what we’re building here, I just am," said Jones, who was the team’s offensive co-ordinator last season. "That’s why we’re working as hard as we can to get this done. I feel like we’re on that track, which is positive."
The former CFL quarterback says he has not entertained offers from other teams. The Ottawa Redblacks and B.C. Lions are both looking for new head coaches after Rick Campbell and DeVone Claybrooks were sacked.
"It doesn’t interest me to be out there, highest bidder and all that," said Jones. "I just want to be where I’m wanted. And get what’s fair. After that, I’m good. People know how I feel about Montreal. I don’t hide it.
"I love this team. I love this city. There’s a lot of good things here and a lot of good building blocks to maintain a nice long run."
The impending deal would put an end to constant lobbying from fans and players.
Veteran John Bowman and quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., among others, publicly praised Jones in the months leading up to the playoffs.
Adams, standing near the back of the room, was one of a handful of players in attendance on Friday — not a common sight for a president and head coach’s end-of-season news conference.
Jones even embraced his star QB before leaving the building.
"I’m honoured by those guys and how they feel about me," said Jones. "And they know I feel the same about them, which is kind of cool. We had a good relationship in the room.
"That’s something you don’t get all the time, you don’t get with every team and every group. You want to hold onto that for as long as you can."
After signing Jones, the two major items remaining on the shopping list will be finding a general manager and new team owners.
The GM position is vacant following the departure of Joe Mack, who replaced Kavis Reed four games into the season on an interim basis.
Boivin says he wants to select a GM who will be on the same page as Jones and understand the team’s long-term goals. To help with the decision, the Alouettes have hired former Lions head coach Wally Buono as an adviser.
Regarding ownership — the CFL bought the troubled franchise from the Wetenhall family back in May — Boivin says he hopes the sale will be completed before the end of the calendar year.
"There’s still interest. But I’m not managing the sale," he said. "The CFL does not want to continue managing and owning this franchise."