NHLPA to begin search for successor to executive director Donald Fehr

The NHLPA announced Friday that it will begin the search for a successor to executive director Donald Fehr.

Fehr will remain with the NHLPA during the search.

According to an NHLPA release, the executive committee met via conference call on Monday and voting concluded Friday at 8:15 pm ET in favor of forming a search committee to find a successor to Fehr, who has been with the NHLPA since December 2010.

Named to the search committee: 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 union added that other members might be added to the search committee by the executive board as late as the executive board’s meetings in July.

The vote to seek a new executive director comes in the last week of the season when Fehr’s, and the NHLPA’s, role in the Kyle Beach investigation came under scrutiny, prompting the union to solicit an independent examination of what happened.

The 20-page report prepared by Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O’Connor about the NHLPA’s conduct surrounding the investigation, did not find “individual wrongdoing or institutional failures of policy or procedure.”

Beach said he was sexually assaulted, while he was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs by Brad Aldrich, a former team video coach. The organization hired Jenner & Block to investigate the claims. Their bombshell report was released in October 2021, spurring a public reckoning over how Beach’s case was handled, as well as hockey culture itself and the systems that too often fail survivors of assault.

The allegations made by Beach were not heard in a court of law, and the negligence lawsuit he later filed against the team for how it handled his case was settled in December after mediation.

Fehr was contacted twice about connected according to the original report, which can be found here, including by a Beach confidant. Fehr told investigators he couldn’t recall either conversation, but did not deny that they had occurred.

Beach addressed this and criticized Fehr in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead in November, saying he had “reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA” and that he two people talked to Fehr. Beach went on to question how he could continue to be the players association’s executive director.

Fehr, who was executive director of the MLBPA from 1983 to 2009, was the NHLPA executive director through two rounds of collective bargaining (2013 and 2020).

The entire statement from the NHLPA’s search committee:

“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. 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. He led the NHLPA through the owners’ 2012-13 lockout and negotiated a new CBA that created a defined benefit pension plan which will greatly benefit players for generations to come. Don played an important role in reviving the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. After Covid-19 forced the suspension of the 2019-20 season, Don led the bargaining that resulted in an extension of the CBA in July 2020 and allowed for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to be played. We look forward to continuing to work with Don as we go through the succession process.”

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