NHLPA to begin search for successor to executive director Donald Fehr

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TORONTO — The National Hockey Players' Association will begin the search for a new executive director.

The NHLPA's executive board announced Friday night that it had voted in favour of a search committee to look for a successor to current executive director Donald Fehr, who will continue to lead the NHLPA as the search is conducted.

Fehr has been at the helm of the players' association since December 2010 and saw the union through two rounds of collective bargaining in 2013 and 2020.

The committee is comprised of current NHL players Ian Cole (Carolina Hurricanes), Justin Faulk (St. Louis Blues), Sam Gagner (Detroit Red Wings), Zach Hyman (Edmonton Oilers), Kyle Okposo (Buffalo Sabres), Nate Schmidt (Winnipeg Jets) and Kevin Shattenkirk (Anaheim Ducks) with additional members who may be added by the NHLPA's executive board up to and during the executive board meetings in July.

"The many players who have played in the NHL over the last eleven years greatly appreciate the significant accomplishments under the leadership of Don Fehr," a statement from the NHLPA read.

"Don joined the NHLPA after a long and successful career as Executive Director of the MLBPA and quickly stabilized the union following a very difficult period. He led the NHLPA through the owners’ 2012-13 lockout and negotiated a new CBA that created a defined benefit pension plan which will greatly benefit players for generations to come.

"Don played an important role in reviving the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. After Covid-19 forced the suspension of the 2019-20 season, Don led the bargaining that resulted in an extension of the CBA in July 2020 and allowed for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played."

Fehr looks to be leaving behind a legacy that's generally viewed upon as positive.

"Don's been tremendous. Great communicator, the PA's been very organized," said veteran Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza after his team's 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins Friday. "I've been through some tough times with (CBA) negotiations. Those are hard. ... I think Don and his team have done a great job."

Despite the praise Spezza heaped on Fehr, he does appear ready for a new chapter.

"The executive committee has decided they want a transition plan and figure something out, and I think that's good. I think the PA's in good order right now, and I think that it's in a good place. We'll find the right person to run things and leave the game in good shape."

Fehr was criticized for his and the NHLPA's handling of the allegations of sexual assault Kyle Beach levied against the Chicago Blackhawks.

A 20-page review from an independent investigation commissioned by the union found no "individual wrongdoing or institutional failures of policy or procedure" by Fehr or others in their handling of Beach's allegations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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