The NHL Players’ Association is looking for a new leader after the union’s executive board voted to begin a search for Don Fehr’s successor.
There is no timetable for that decision, and Fehr will continue to serve in his current role until a replacement is found by a search committee that was announced Friday night.
Fehr has been executive director for more than a decade and guided the NHLPA through two collective bargaining negotiations with the league. He turns 74 in July and began laying the framework for a succession plan last fall when talking to players early in the season.
The seven-player committee made up of Carolina’s Ian Cole, Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo, Anaheim’s Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis’ Justin Faulk, Detroit’s Sam Gagner, Edmonton’s Zach Hyman and Winnipeg’s Nate Schmidt is expected to provide an update on its search to the executive board at its annual meeting in Toronto in June.
Fehr spent 23 years as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association before retiring from that post in 2009. He joined the NHLPA in December 2010 and negotiated a CBA with Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials in 2013 and an extension in 2020 that gave hockey labor peace through at least 2025.
“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,” members of the search committee said in a statement. “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. … We look forward to continuing to work with Don as we go through the succession process.”
Players also said Fehr played an important role in bringing back the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 and helping shepherd them through the COVID-19 pandemic with the CBA extension that paved the way for the 2020 playoffs to take place in quarantined bubbles.
Fehr was put in the spotlight last fall when a Chicago Blackhawks player who alleged he was sexually assaulted by a video coach said in a television interview the NHLPA was made aware of his case. An investigation recently found Fehr was not at fault for how the union handled Kyle Beach’s situation.
A law firm hired to look into the Fehr and the union’s actions in 2010 and 2011 concluded miscommunication and misunderstanding were behind the lack of action after Beach reported being assaulted by Brad Aldrich.