Fehr, a tough negotiator who oversaw Major League Baseball's players' union for 26 years before stepping down in 2009, has been operating as an unpaid consultant for the NHLPA since last November.

"I am gratified by the executive board's vote, and I look forward to meeting all the players at team meetings which begin later this month," said Fehr in a statement released by the NHLPA.

With the executive board having accepted the search committee's recommendation, Fehr's name will be put to a vote by the full membership.

The vote is expected to take place following individual team meetings that will take place during training camp and the first part of the regular season.

The NHLPA has been without an executive director since Paul Kelly was controversially dismissed last summer.

"The search committee is pleased that the executive board has endorsed our recommendation to select Don Fehr as our new Executive Director and we look forward to our fellow members voting on this important matter," said Mathieu Schneider, a member of the search committee.

Fehr brings a hard-nosed negotiating style to the NHLPA at a time when it is preparing for talks on a new collective bargaining agreement.

During his years in charge of the MLBPA, the baseball union earned a reputation as the most powerful in sport with Fehr playing a major role in 1994-95 strike that resulted in the cancellation of the World Series.

(Writing by Steve Keating in Lemont, Illinois, Editing by John Mehaffey)