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Labor Secretary Marty Walsh named hockey players' association director

After weeks of speculation, the National Hockey League Players’ Association Thursday formally appointed U.S. Labor Secretary and former Boston mayor Marty Walsh as its next director. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
1 of 3 | After weeks of speculation, the National Hockey League Players’ Association Thursday formally appointed U.S. Labor Secretary and former Boston mayor Marty Walsh as its next director. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- After weeks of speculation, the National Hockey League Players' Association on Thursday formally appointed U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh as its next director.

The news comes following a nine-month search for new leadership at the union to replace outgoing director Donald Fehr.

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Fehr, the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, has headed the NHLPA since Dec. 18, 2010. During his tenure, the labor lawyer oversaw a contentious collective bargaining process, including a lockout by team owners in 2012 that cost the league nearly half a season.

Fehr will officially vacate his post in mid-March, making way for Walsh. The 55-year-old Boston native spent seven years over two terms as that city's 54th mayor, from 2014 until 2021 when he joined President Joe Biden's cabinet as the 29th Secretary of Labor.

Walsh's departure marks the first cabinet secretary to step down during Biden's tenure.

Walsh has a strong history with union life, having joined the Laborers' International Union of North America as a 21-year-old, serving as an officer while also serving in the Massachusetts State Legislature.

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"We are excited to name Marty Walsh as the next executive director of the NHLPA," Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, a member of the 10-man NHLPA search committee, said in a 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."

Pundits around the National Hockey League had speculated for weeks that Walsh would succeed Fehr.

Walsh did not let the speculation distract from his Labor Department duties. Last week, he called on Belarus to release six trade union leaders imprisoned in that country.

"I leave @USDOL with a deeper understanding of why working people are the heart and soul and strength of our nation. I believe in the promise and resilience of our nation now more than ever," Walsh said in a statement on Twitter Thursday afternoon. "Thank you for everything."

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