Marty Walsh steps down as US labor secretary to lead NHL Players Association – The Boston Globe

“So I look forward to working with NHLPA players and staff to make the NHLPA the best and most effective team that we can be in promoting and protecting the interests of our players and their families.”

Walsh, who was unanimously approved by the NHLPA’s 32-member executive board (which includes the Bruins’ Brandon Carlo), made no mention of hockey in an email sent Thursday to Labor Department employees. He said he was grateful to be working for President Biden, “the most pro-labor and pro-union president and administration in our nation’s history,” he wrote, and was closing that chapter of his career “with a deeper understanding why working people are the heart, soul and strength of our nation.”

He went on to add: “In my travels across this country, I have been moved and inspired by workers, students, and trainees in all types of work.”

According to The Daily Faceoff, Walsh will draw a salary of approximately $3 million. Donald Fehr, the 74-year-old current NHLPA CEO, is believed to earn $3.5 million a year. He has held the position since 2010.

Walsh, a former Massachusetts state representative, was elected mayor of Boston in 2014 and served in that position until March 2021, when Biden selected him to be labor secretary. He was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 68 to 29.

In that role, Walsh became involved in last winter’s Major League Baseball labor dispute, calling both sides to urge them to return to the table after owners locked out players.

The NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement won’t expire until after the 2025-26 season, so Walsh won’t be entering any current disputes. However, thorny issues lie ahead, including the growth of the game, potential adjustments to the current 50-50 revenue split between the league and players, player health and safety, and international competition.

“In speaking with my clients who were involved in the process and others around them, Marty was clearly the best choice,” Wellesley’s agent Matt Keator said. “The players were really excited about him and the vision of him and how he wants to move forward.”

Keator, who represents members of the selection committee (Nate Schmidt of the Jets) and executive board (Adam Fox of the Rangers and Scott Mayfield of the Islanders, both alternate player representatives), as well as assistant to CEO Ron Hainsey , said that the players were hopeful that Walsh would prepare the players for the next CBA negotiation in 2026 and strengthen marketing.

Walsh was unanimously approved by the NHLPA’s 32-member executive board.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe

“I think a lot of people feel that individual players aren’t marketed for optimization,” said New York-based agent George Bazos, whose clients include the Flyers’ Cam Atkinson. “Fans want content. They want to meet the players. They love it when they’re miked. They love to see what they are doing on their days off. They love to see them go into the arena and see what they are wearing. Anything you can do to engage the fans more and increase revenue, if not the most important job, is up there.”

As mayor, Walsh had two unsuccessful forays into sports, hooking his bandwagon to both the city’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics and his efforts to hold an IndyCar race at the seaport. He will be involved in future negotiations to send NHL players to the Olympics, which hasn’t happened since the 2014 Winter Games.

Walsh is no stranger to the owners’ side. In 2017, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and his three children donated $13,000 to Walsh’s campaign committee. And while mayor, Walsh had extensive dealings with the Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Red Sox and Fenway Park. In November 2020, FSG became the principal owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Walsh is the second Massachusetts politician in recent months to jump into the world of sports. Former Governor Charlie Baker was named NCAA president in December.

One of Walsh’s first tasks as head of the NHLPA will be to connect with nearly 1,000 workers — some 864 skaters and 91 goaltenders have competed in games this season — and figure out how to put more money in their pockets. The players, who earn a minimum of $750,000 a year and an average salary of more than $3 million, pay $30 a day in union dues during the regular season from October to April.

Players receive half of the NHL’s hockey-related revenue, a general term that includes gate receipts, broadcast rights fees, merchandise, concessions, ad sales, parking costs, and other promotional fees. Commissioner Gary Bettman said in June that the HRR was back to pre-pandemic levels and was expected to exceed $5.2 billion.

Because revenue plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the upper limit of the salary cap remained flat ($81.5 million) from 2019-20 through 2021-22, before increasing $1 million for this season. The league projected the cap would increase by another $1 million next season, to $87.5 million in 2024-25 and $92 million in 2025-26.

At the All-Star Game in South Florida this month, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league didn’t expect any changes to those projections.

Matt Porter can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.

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