Walsh to start NHL union job mid-March

Marty Walsh and Joe Biden in the Seaport in 2019. (Image via Mayor's Office archives)

Marty Walsh is expected to start his new job as executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the union said in a statement Thursday.

Walsh, Boston’s mayor between 2014 and 2021 and before that a local lawmaker and labor leader, is the first Cabinet member to leave the Biden White House. While continuing to live in Dorchester’s Lower Mills neighborhood, Walsh has served as President Biden’s secretary of labor since March 2021.

Walsh, 55, has been quiet about taking the job since it was first reported weeks ago in a hockey news outlet. Reports indicate he’ll be earning an annual salary of more than $3 million.

On Thursday, the Toronto-based players union released a statement on his behalf. “My years of experience in the labor movement and in public life has taught me that the job is never about me. It’s about us. It’s about the people we serve,” Walsh said in a statement. “So I look forward to working with players and the NHLPA staff to make the NHLPA the best and most effective team we can be to advance and protect the interests of our players and their families.”

The union’s executive board unanimously voted to appoint Walsh as head of the union, ending a nine-month search to replace Don Fehr, who has held the job since December 2010.

“Marty is a proven leader with a strong union background,” Kyle Okposo, a member of the search committee and a Buffalo Sabres player, said in a separate statement. “His energy and ability to connect with players were immediately evident to the search committee.”

The other members of the search committee included players Ian Cole of Tampa Bay Lightning, Mattias Ekholm of the Nashville Predators, Justin Faulk of the St. Louis Blues, Sam Gagner and Nate Schmidt of the Winnipeg Jets, Zach Hyman of the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Shattenkirk of the Anaheim Ducks, Jacob Trouba of the New York Rangers and James van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers.

After reports of Walsh’s move first surfaced several weeks ago, Dorchester residents and hockey fans wished him well. “Things are changing in athletics now and it’s such a business as well as it is entertainment, they’ll need his labor expertise to navigate those changes,” said Shaun O’Sullivan, a board member of Dorchester Youth Hockey (DYH). “All of his traits and characteristics and the way he handles himself, it’s nice seeing someone like that have this kind of opportunity.”

Added Tim Rogers, DYH’s secretary: “With him moving on to the NHLPA, and w/ Dorchester being a well known hockey town, we’re sure it will create some wonderful opportunities for our program and other programs throughout the city. When a Dorchester native makes it to that level, you can guarantee they are going to give back to where they came from.”

Seth Daniel contributed to this report.

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