NHLPA votes to begin search for Donald Fehr’s successor as executive director

Friday night was a big night for the NHL Players'Association. They announced that they have formed a search team to find Don Fehr's successor.

On Monday, the NHLPA executive board held conference calls and players voted throughout the week whether or not to replace Fehr. The 73-year old joined the NHLPA in Dec 2010 and has negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreements for 2013 and 2020.

Fehr will continue to head the NHLPA until a successor is found.

The initial members of the NHLPA search committee are 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). The future might include other members.

The committee will be assisting in the search for candidates.

The selection committee stated in a statement that:

“The significant achievements of Don Fehr have been greatly appreciated by the many NHL players over the past eleven years. After a long and successful career in the MLBPA Executive Director, Don Fehr joined the NHLPA. This helped to stabilize the union during a difficult time. He managed the NHLPA's 2012-13 lockout. He also negotiated a new CBA, which established a pension plan with defined benefits that will be of great benefit to future generations. Don was a key player in the 2016 revival of the World Cup of Hockey.

“After Covid-19 had forced the suspension for the 2019-20 season, Don led negotiations that resulted to an extension of CBA July 2020 and allowed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. As we move through the succession process, we look forward to working with Don.

ESPN is told by sources that the timing of the decision does not have anything to do with an independent investigation into Fehr’s handling of Kyle Beach’s allegations of sexual assault. Chicago BlackhawksBrad Aldrich, then-video coach in 2010. The April 15, 2010 report by Brad Aldrich, then-video coach, found miscommunications and misunderstandings in the handling of such allegations. However, it did not find any “individual wrongdoing” or institutional failures of procedure or policy by Fehr.

One source claims that Fehr discussed a succession plan with players in the fall of 2021. This was when the search committee began to look for Fehr's successor. Another source claims that the search committee was established because Fehr had not yet created a formal plan to find his successor.

CBA currently runs through 2025-26 season. This gives Fehr and anyone who succeeds him plenty of breathing room before the next labor battle with the NHL owners. In the short-term, however, the next NHLPA executive Director will be responsible for negotiations around the World Cup of Hockey. It is expected that it will return in February 2024.

Fehr is likely to consider the following candidates: Mathieu SchneiderFormer NHL defenseman, currently assistant to Fehr's executive director; Glenn HealyFormer NHL goaltender and current head of the NHL Alumni Association. Former director of player affairs under Paul Kelly (ex-NHLPA executive director); Vancouver CanucksMike Gillis is the general manager. He has also been consulting with the NHLPA and player agents Ian Pulver, Allan Walsh.

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