Wright has right stuff

Tom Wright speaks with the media Tuesday after announcing that he has accepted a one-year extension...

Tom Wright speaks with the media Tuesday after announcing that he has accepted a one-year extension from the CFL's board of governors to stay on as commissioner. (Toronto Sun/Dave Abel)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

Not long after 1 p.m. yesterday, Howard Sokolowski exhaled.

The part-owner of the Argonauts made his way to the head office of the Canadian Football League on Wellington St., where CFL commissioner Tom Wright was about to announce his own future.

"We're thrilled," Sokolowski said, after Wright announced he has accepted a one-year extension from the league's board of governors, keeping him in charge until the end of the 2006 season. "I fully endorse Tom Wright, and so does (fellow Argos owner) David Cynamon."

Now if only Wright had such support from the rest of the league. It has been widely reported Wright wanted a two-year extension in the spring, but the owners of the Montreal Alouettes, B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats balked. It didn't help that the league's board of governors held a conference call to discuss Wright's future while he was on vacation in France.

Despite the lack of unanimous support, Wright is confident he can further strengthen the league's viability.

"I understand in any organization unanimity is never something that always has to be the order of the day," Wright said. "It is healthy to have argument. If we only made every single decision based on unanimity, we would be stagnant."

Wright apologized that his employment issue became the focus when it should have been on the game itself.

"I prefer the focus to be about our players, our game, the role it plays in the country," Wright said. "The focus doesn't belong on Tom Wright and whether he is going to stick around."

The enforcement of a strict salary cap -- or as Wright preferred to call it, a "salary management system," -- with teeth is something he wants in place for next season. There's a cap in place now, but it is not believed to be properly followed by clubs.

Expanding to Eastern Canada in the next few years remains integral in his mandate, as does instituting instant replay for next season and increasing league revenues.

"I have the strong support of the consensus majority (of the board), who believe in the same vision that I have always ascribed to," said Wright, who sat on his decision to take the extension since last week. "It's my firm belief that I am the right person to lead this organization and to continue with the job that I began almost three years ago.

"I am staying put and I am thrilled about it."

Sokolowski hopes Wright will be around a lot longer than through 2006.

"I just know Tom is a credible commissioner for this league," Sokolowski said. "I don't think, I know, this will go longer than 18 months. He has the support of enough governors to get his work done."


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