U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is set to replace Donald Fehr as executive director of the NHL Players' Association, according to a report by the DailyFaceoff's Frank Seravalli on Tuesday.
The news is expected to be made official in the "coming days" following Tuesday's State of the Union address by President Joe Biden, Seravalli added.
TSN’s Darren Dreger and ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported last week that the NHLPA was eyeing Walsh as the leading candidate to take over as the next leader of the player's union. The search for the a new director picked up steam last Thursday, as the NHLPA’s executive board met during the 2023 NHL All-Star weekend.
While the Department of Labor declined to comment about Walsh to Politico last week, reporters noted that NHLPA spokesperson Jonathan Weatherdon did not deny that Walsh is being considered.
“The search committee has been actively interviewing potential candidates and remains engaged in the process of selecting a new NHLPA Executive Director,” Weatherdon said in an email to Politico. “While the process is getting closer to completion, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Kaplan reports that former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis also ranked among the frontrunners to head the NHLPA.
Marty Walsh: former Boston Mayor, current U.S. Labor Secretary
Walsh, 55, served as Boston’s mayor from 2014-21 before joining President Joe Biden’s cabinet. Walsh has an extensive labor background, including with the Boston Building Trades Council.
For more background on Walsh’s potential departure from what could be a changing Biden administration, check out this story from Politico.
Don Fehr on the way out after heading NHLPA since 2010
In late April 2022, the NHLPA formalized its search for a successor to Fehr, who led the union starting in December 2010.
While it is plausible that other factors expedited Fehr’s departure, one key catalyst for the change revolved around how Fehr and the NHLPA allegedly handled Kyle Beach’s allegations toward former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.
There are some key milestones ahead for Walsh and the NHLPA in the future. Most pressingly, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs through the 2025-26 NHL season. Although that’s relatively far out, NHLPA members likely want the union’s executive director to be primed on a number of key labor issues, including the much-derided escrow process.
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