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TORONTO — The NHL Players’ Association promoted Ron Hainsey to assistant executive director on Friday, putting him in a prominent position on new leader Marty Walsh’s staff.

Hainsey, a retired defenseman who played over 1,000 NHL games, joined the union two years ago and was assigned to work on special projects and development initiatives. He joins special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider as the top ex-players in the organization.

“Ron has a deep knowledge of the game as a longtime player, an NHLPA member who was actively involved in collective bargaining throughout his career and most recently as an NHLPA staff member,” Walsh said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with Ron to further strengthen the NHLPA and better serve the members.”

Now 42, Hainsey was part of the players’ collective bargaining agreement negotiating committees in 2012-13 and 2020 and spent several years on the NHLPA executive board.

“Ron has been an instrumental part of the NHLPA going back to his time as a player,” Buffalo Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “Ron is thoughtful, direct and thorough, and has earned the respect of people across the hockey industry.”

Okposo was on the executive director search committee to find a successor for Don Fehr, which ended with Walsh getting the job. The former U.S. Secretary of Labor and mayor of Boston was hired away from the Biden administration in February and assumed control in March.

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NHLPA promotes Ron Hainsey to assistant executive director