The NHLPA has appointed U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as its new executive director, the union announced Thursday.
Walsh replaces Donald Fehr, who has been with the NHLPA since Dec. 18, 2010. Walsh will take over the position in mid-March, according to the union.
The union said Thursday its executive board with representatives from all 32 clubs unanimously approved Walsh’s appointment.
Walsh became mayor of Boston in 2014. He resigned in 2021 to serve in the cabinet of U.S. President Joe Biden.
“I am honoured to have been selected as the executive director of the NHLPA. In accepting this offer, I am committing to do all that I can to advocate on players’ behalf,” said Walsh said in a statement issued by the NHLPA. “My years of experience in the labour movement and in public life has taught me that the job is never about me. It’s about us. It’s about the people we serve. So I look forward to working with players and the NHLPA staff to make the NHLPA the best and most effective team we can be to advance and protect the interests of our players and their families.”
Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo had been leading the players’ search committee, which met during NHL All-Star weekend.
“We are excited to name Marty Walsh as the next executive director of the NHLPA,” Okposo said in the same statement. “Marty is a proven leader with a strong union background. His energy and ability to connect with players were immediately evident to the search committee. These were the very qualities we were focused on throughout our search for the next executive director. We look forward to the NHLPA’s future under Marty’s leadership.”
The search committee also included Ian Cole (Tampa Bay Lightning), Mattias Ekholm (Nashville Predators), Justin Faulk (St. Louis Blues), Sam Gagner (Winnipeg Jets), Zach Hyman (Edmonton Oilers), Nate Schmidt (Winnipeg Jets), Kevin Shattenkirk (Anaheim Ducks), Jacob Trouba (New York Rangers) and James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia Flyers).
Walsh was reportedly on the short list to become Biden’s chief of staff, but numerous reports said that position will go to Jeff Zients.
A fan of the Boston Bruins, Walsh showed an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport in videos posted online during his tenure from 2014 to 2021 as mayor of Boston.
Walsh, 55, is the first of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet secretaries to leave. He is also the latest politician to shift into sports, following someone Walsh has a close relationship with: former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who is taking over as president of the NCAA.
Before becoming mayor of Boston, Walsh was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1997-2014.
Walsh also is a former president of Laborers’ Union Local 223.
The NHL’s current CBA expires after the 2026 season.
–with files from The Associated Press