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NHLPA to announce Donald Fehr as executive director and new constitution

The NHL Players’ Association is expected to schedule a conference call for Saturday afternoon to announce the hiring of Donald Fehr as executive director of the union and the adoption of a revamped constitution that will give Fehr much more power.

After receiving an overwhelming endorsement in a league-wide player vote, the NHLPA has received the final endorsement from the vast majority of the executive committee, which is comprised of the league’s 30 player representatives. A conference call with the players was held Tuesday night, but since four teams were playing, not all players could participate. The NHLPA has spent the past couple of days tracking down the votes.

It will also be announced Saturday that the NHLPA has adopted a new constitution, one that was largely crafted by Fehr while he was acting as advisor after the firing of Paul Kelly last spring. The old document, which was crafted by a committee led by Eric Lindros after the Ted Saskin debacle, was unwieldy and made it impossible for Kelly to be effective in his role. It is expected the new constitution will give back many of the powers the executive director lost and streamline the process so there will not be so many layers of approval needed for the executive director to make decisions.

It is not known whether Fehr will announce Saturday the appointment of former NHLer Mathieu Schneider to a senior position with the NHLPA, but sources say Schneider will indeed be a key advisor for Fehr, who will not move to Toronto permanently and will perform the bulk of his duties out of his base in New York.

And where the Major League Baseball Players’ Association gives, it also takes away. Fehr is coming to the NHLPA after 23 years at the same post with the MLBPA, but has learned that associate counsel Matt Nussbaum is leaving the NHLPA to take a job with the MLBPA in New York.

Hockey fans may not be familiar with Nussbaum, but his loss is a big one for the NHLPA. One of three lawyers in the NHLPA’s labor department, Nussbaum was responsible for litigating grievances on behalf of the players and working with agents on the intricacies of the collective bargaining agreement.

Nussbaum was highly respected both by player agents and those in the NHL’s head office and was seen as a voice of reason in relations between the league and the NHLPA.


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