Wright's power on trial with cap

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

It's about voting for change or sticking with the status quo.

No, we're not talking about the election later this week to decide Canada's future in politics, but the Canadian Football League's voting on commissioner Tom Wright's salary management system.

Wright will present today his much-anticipated system -- i.e. cap -- in Scottsdale, Ariz., to the board of governors, who then will cast their votes.

There has been talk the cap will be raised from $2.6 million to $3.8 million, which will seem like a huge leap except that all nine teams exceeded the cap last year. Sources suggest the nine had an average player payroll of $3.5 million.

The system, which was worked on by representatives of some of the nine teams along with Wright, is expected to be visually transparent, allowing for open disclosure of salaries. Some of the other components involve expanding the roster by as many as three players (including two Americans), moving up the trade deadline, and making adjustments to the annual draft, the injured list and the practice roster.

Wright goes into his fourth season, but with only a one-year extension instead of the multi-year deal he sought. It appears his ability to persuade the board to accept the salary management system could be important for his long-term fate. In essence, voting to implement the cap would be an endorsement of Wright's embattled leadership.

"I don't look at in those terms," he said. "This is part of the job I'm paid to do, which is bring forward proposals and enable those things that I think will make us a better league and a stronger and healthier organization. We've been looking at bringing forward this kind of proposal for quite some time. Ultimately it's about bringing forward a salary management system for a league that will allow for competitive balance."

B.C. Lions owner David Braley, who is a critic of the commissioner's management, told Vancouver radio station Mojo Sports yesterday that Wright would have a hard time implementing a system that would please all the teams.

"Everybody has different needs to fill," he said. "I don't think the salary wage management system is as big a deal as the media makes it out to be. It has worked well the last five, 10 years. We've had a guideline to work by."

The Argonauts feel the new system is imperative.

"I think it's absolutely crucial to make the next step to run this league similar to all other professional leagues (with cost certainty)," Argos president Keith Pelley said.

It's expected Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Calgary and Hamilton will back the new plan, while B.C. and Montreal will vote against it. Edmonton and Ottawa are considered swing votes. The Eskimos annually are considered among the top-spending teams in the league. Ottawa president Lonie Glieberman has been quoted as saying he'll be in favour of implementing the cap, but enforcing it next year after it has had a trial basis.


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