Russell Reynolds Associates Recruits New Leader for the National Hockey League Players’ Association
February 10, 2023 – The sports industry continues to be a growth area for executive search businesses. Russell Reynolds Associates recently assisted in the recruitment of U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as the new executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA). He succeeds Donald Fehr, who has led the organization since 2010. The formal announcement of Mr. Walsh’s hiring is expected in the coming days. The NHLPA formally began its search for Mr. Fehr’s replacement last April with a seven-player committee. The committee consisted of seven NHLPA members: Ian Cole (Tampa Bay Lightning), Justin Faulk (St. Louis Blues), Sam Gagner (UFA), Zach Hyman (Edmonton Oilers), Kyle Okposo (Buffalo Sabres), Nate Schmidt (Winnipeg Jets), and Kevin Shattenkirk (Anaheim Ducks).
TSN’s Darren Dreger and ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported last week that the NHLPA was eyeing Mr. Walsh as the leading candidate to take over as the next leader of the player’s union. The search for a new director picked up steam last Thursday, as the NHLPA’s executive board met during the 2023 NHL All-Star weekend.
Mr. Walsh was unable to leave his government post until after attending President Biden’s annual State of the Union address. He was presented as the NHLPA search committee’s top choice for the job during an executive board meeting held in Miami last Friday. According to YardBarker, Mr. Walsh emerged as a candidate for the position only within the last three weeks. Sources indicated Russell Reynolds was rebuffed by Mr. Walsh over multiple attempts to include him earlier in the process, but he had a change of circumstance once he was not selected as the President’s next chief of staff.
Mr. Walsh served as Boston’s mayor from 2014 to 2021 before joining President Biden’s cabinet. He has an extensive labor background, including with the Boston Building Trades Council.
The National Hockey League Players’ Association is the labor union for the group of professional hockey players who are under standard player contracts to the 32 member clubs in the National Hockey League located in the U.S. and Canada.
Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leadership advisory and search firm. Its 520-plus consultants in 47 offices work with public, private, and non-profit organizations across all industries and regions. The firm also conducts in-depth organizational culture assessment and measures the cultural fit of key leadership and candidates in the following areas: arts and culture, global development, higher education, non-profit health and human services, public sector, social justice and advocacy, as well as trade and professional associations.
Russell Reynolds provides executive search services across all areas of the global media, entertainment, technology, and athletics markets. The firm’s consultants bring the experience and ability to assess competencies and cultural fit of board members, CEOs, senior functional leadership, and players, with expertise in professional sports teams and leagues (CEOs, general managers, coaches, and players); digital, media, and entertainment; and technology-based start-ups.
Recently Called In
Russell Reynolds Associates was recently retained by the NFL Players Association to lead its search for a new executive director. DeMaurice Smith is entering his last term as the organization’s leader. “DeMaurice Smith was transparent with us about his interest in moving on after this term and for the stability and security of our union; he will work with our player leadership to ensure we have a succession plan in place for the next leader,” NFLPA president and former Browns offensive lineman J.C. Tretter said in a statement. “De cares deeply about our union and about our players and we thank him for staying to help us secure a strong future for the NFLPA.”
The NFL Players Association’s mission is to maximize the rights, health, well-being, and ultimate success of NFL players on and off the field. The organization works to ensure players receive fair wages, working conditions, and benefits throughout their careers and beyond.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media