TORONTO - The NHL Players' Association has appointed former baseball union chief Donald Fehr as its new executive director.
Fehr was recommended by a search committee in September and the executive board soon after endorsed the nomination. A full vote by the membership then overwhelmingly approved the appointment.
"I am both humbled and honored by the expression of confidence that the players' vote reflects," said Fehr in a statement released by the NHLPA. "I'm looking forward to working closely with the membership and the executive board."
Fehr spent 33 years with the baseball players union, serving as its executive director from 1983 until 2009. He joined the MLBPA as its general counsel in 1977 prior to his extensive stint as the union's leader.
The 62-year-old Fehr will help play an important role in the next labor talks with NHL owners. The current collective bargaining agreement, negotiated to end the lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, is set to expire in September 2012 after a one-year extension was agreed upon in July.
"We are pleased that the leadership position at the Players' Association has been filled, and we look forward to working with Don in his new role," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.
Fehr has an abundance of history in labor negotiations. He guided the baseball players through a strike in 1994-95 that saw the cancellation of the '94 World Series.
During Fehr's time as MLBPA union chief, the average player salary increased from $289,000 in 1983 to more than $3.3 million in 2009. In 1990, he successfully negotiated a $280 million settlement against ownership for colluding to stifle the free-agent market.