Sources: NHLPA director search focusing on Marty Walsh

The NHLPA executive board will meet this week in Florida to discuss the possible appointment of U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as its new executive director, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Walsh, who served as Mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021, has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Don Fehr, who is stepping down after 12 years on the job.

The NHLPA meeting will take place via Zoom and in person for players attending the NHL's All Star Weekend in Sunrise, Florida. Should the executive board move forward with the search committee's recommendation, Walsh would need 18 of the board's 32 votes for approval.

The NHLPA's goal, sources told ESPN, is to have a new leader by the end of the regular season. TSN was first to report on Walsh emergence as the leading candidate.

Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo has been leading the players' search committee, which has met regularly with candidates both in-person and virtually over the last several months.

The collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league expires in 2026, and players will have several important issues they hope to resolve at the negotiating table -- including escrow and the handling of players' medical care.

Former Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis -- a former NHL player and player agent -- is also among the finalists, sources told ESPN.