Fehr to help NHLPA find new leader

NEW YORK -- On the verge of leaving baseball, Donald Fehr is turning his attention to hockey.

Fehr was appointed Thursday to assist the NHL Players' Association in its search for an executive director.

The hockey union said Fehr will work with two committees. In addition to the search committee, a second panel will review the union's constitution.

"You have an organization of professional athletes who are in a period in which they can use some help, and if I can be of some assistance to them in the process, given the long experience I've had, I'd like to try and do it," Fehr said.

Fehr was hired by the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1977 and has been its executive director since December 1983. He announced retirement plans in June, and the union's executive board is expected to approve union general counsel Michael Weiner to succeed him next month.

The NHL union has been in turmoil at various times. Formed in 1967, it was run by Alan Eagleson until he was replaced by Bob Goodenow in 1991. Eagleson, who also was an agent, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston in January 1998 to mail fraud, then pleaded guilty in Canada to defrauding Hockey Canada, Labatt's and the NHL Players Association of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Canada Cup revenue.

Goodenow presided over a brief strike in April 1992, a 103-day lockout in 1994-95 and a 301-day lockout that cost the NHL its entire 2004-05 season.

Ted Saskin, the union's senior director, replaced Goodenow in 2005, then was fired in May 2007 after being accused of ordering spying of player e-mail. Paul Kelly took over that October, and he was fired this past August.

The union's labor contract expires in September 2011, but the NHLPA has an option to extend it for one year.

"I didn't represent professional athletes for 32 years because I thought that was not the thing I wanted to do," Fehr said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to give them some assistance which will make this task a little easier for them."