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NHLPA eyeing U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to replace Don Fehr

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U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh could be the leading candidate to replace Donald Fehr as executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, according to reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger and ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.

Further developments could surface as soon as Thursday, as the NHLPA’s executive board will meet during 2023 NHL All-Star weekend. If the search committee recommends Walsh or another candidate, they’d need to receive at least 18 of the NHLPA executive board’s 32 votes to become executive director.

While the Department of Labor declined to comment about Walsh to Politico, 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 ranks among the frontrunners to head the NHLPA.

Marty Walsh could be joining the NHLPA in the near future. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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.

Whether it’s Walsh or someone else heading the NHLPA, there are some key milestones 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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