NHL-From the Biden cabinet, Walsh steps down as head of the NHLPA

By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) – Marty Walsh, the new NHL Players Association (NHLPA) executive director, got a taste of the challenges ahead on Thursday as he tackled LGBTQ+ issues and like a World Cup of Hockey without Russia could look.

Former union organizer, mayor of Boston and, until last month, US Secretary of Labor in US President Joe Biden’s cabinet, Walsh has a lot of negotiating expertise and may need it to deal with a multinational group of millionaires and billionaire owners.

“I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to become Executive Director. It allows me to combine two passions that I have, one is hockey and the other is the struggle for working people,” Walsh told reporters during his first news conference at the Rolle.

“There’s still a lot to do and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Walsh succeeds Donald Fehr, who held the job for 12 years but remained under a cloud due to the NHLPA’s clumsy handling of sexual assault allegations surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kyle Beach.

The 55-year-old Bruins supporter will have plenty of time to update before he negotiates a new collective agreement, with the current contract running until the 2025/26 season.

However, there are some other issues that require immediate attention, including a simmering controversy over inclusion.

NHL Pride Night events have received the unwanted spotlight in recent months as a handful of players and even some teams have objected to attending on religious grounds.

Walsh acknowledged that there was “a lot of work to be done” regarding the inclusion, but agreed with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that it was an individual player’s right to choose which events they wanted to be associated with .

“I personally support the LGBTQ community and always will,” Walsh said. “But it’s people’s individual right if they want to wear a warm-up jersey (rainbow jersey) before the team skate.

“I don’t think the LGBTQ community should feel like NHL hockey players are turning their backs on that community, the majority of the players wore the jersey.”

The NHL’s drive to expand its global footprint and the massive success of the recent World Baseball Classic have fueled discussion of a World Cup of Hockey in 2025.

Without a best-on-best tournament since the last World Cup in 2016, the league and players have their sights set on 2025, but plans for a showcase have slowed after sporting sanctions were imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.

“I think it’s a bit early to talk about who’s involved in the tournament and who isn’t,” Walsh said. “We should put the tournament on paper and talk about how it will look like.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

Source : news.yahoo.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *