Walman inspired after attending NHLPA Executive Board Meetings

Inspired by like-minded speakers and planned efforts to grow the game, Jake Walman looks forward to continued work alongside his fellow players off the ice after attending his first NHLPA Executive Board Meetings.

Walman inspired after attending NHLPA Executive Board Meetings

Feature Photo: Getty Images

Jake Walman has experienced a lot of firsts along his NHL career.

Most of them have come on the ice be it his first game, first goal or first assist.

This summer, he added an off-ice entry to the list by attending his first NHLPA Executive Board Meetings.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Walman, who is now a member of the San Jose Sharks after a recent trade from Detroit on June 25.

“I realized that this is something I definitely want to be part of going forward not just in relation to the game itself but sharing the like-mindedness of those who spoke and understanding the business side of the game, and what it takes to grow the sport.”   

Held annually, NHLPA Executive Board Meetings provide the opportunity for the 32 Club Player Representatives and any interested players to gather and discuss internal affairs. They are joined by NHLPA executive staff, program administers and other special guest speakers. This year’s meetings were held in Las Vegas over two days, coinciding with NHL Awards and NHL Draft.

The board is comprised of 32 Club Player Representatives, one from each team, as well as an Alternate Club Player Representative, who manage the interests of their teammates. They are joined by NHLPA Executive Director, Marty Walsh, who has held the position since March 2023. Walsh is responsible for managing the NHLPA’s daily affairs and policies while acting on behalf of the board.

At the meetings, a players discussed, learned and engaged in union business with the goal of creating a path forward for the future of the NHLPA.

“It was interesting to hear opinions from other players and other people on how we can work together on several issues,” said Walman.

The meetings were the very definition of a team effort, he noted.

“All the players want to be on the same page, and you could see that they are.

“I listened to the older guys, and they spoke about how we have to keep this going for them and to help the younger guys, to keep growing the game and supporting one another.”

One of the many highlights for Walman was guest speaker and Fanatics Founder and CEO, Michael Rubin.

Rubin has worked closely with the NHLPA and the players in the leadup to the unveiling of the first-ever Fanatics branded NHL uniforms, which will be worn during the upcoming 2024-25 season.  

“He was great. I remember leaving that meeting feeling so inspired. Listening to how he grew up and always kept grinding he never gave up.

“What he talked about was so inspirational.”

A big takeaway for the Toronto-born blueliner was the bond between the players and their shared vision.

“The meetings say a lot about hockey players that we want to take care of each other. It’s a big family. We play on different teams, but we are all in this together.”

Now, Walman will turn his attention to the 2024-25 NHL season, which will be his first with the Sharks.

At the meetings, he already had the chance to meet two of his new teammates.

“You know everyone by their face, so it was easy at the meetings to go up and introduce yourself.

“I met [fellow defencemen] Mario Ferraro and Henry Thrun they were representing San Jose at the meetings.

“They are great guys and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone soon enough.”

For now, it is about staying organized.

“I have to make sure I am getting the right contacts in my phone,” Walman said with a laugh.

“Every time someone calls or texts, I make sure I add them to my contacts. That is about as far as I have gotten so far.”

Walman is looking forward to playing his part in the team’s pursuit of success.

With a balance of veteran and up-and-coming talent on the Sharks’ roster, there is reason for optimism in San Jose.

“There are players who have great leadership experience like Logan Couture and Tyler Toffoli and know what it takes to win.

“You also have exciting young talents like Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith it’s a great young team coming up and there is a lot to look forward to.”

“Hopefully, I can bring some of the experiences I had in St. Louis and Detroit where we pushed up the ladder and share that message with my new teammates.”

Walman is buoyed by the team’s blueprint for achieving success.

“We’re going to make it a competitive nature, where we are all pushing another to play the right way and a create a standard going forward.”

Walman knows, first-hand, just how crucial togetherness is for the players, on and off the ice.

“Whether it’s the executive board meetings or the team you play for, it’s all about being on the same page and working together to achieve your goals.”