Sharks hire Mike Grier as first black NHL general manager

Mike Grier, who played 14 seasons in the NHL at right wing, was named general manager of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, becoming the first black general manager in the history of the league, which just ended its 105th season.

Grier, 47, who retired as a player in 2011, joins the team after serving as a scout for Chicago and two years as an assistant coach with the Devils. Last season, he served as a hockey operations adviser for the Rangers, reporting to team president and general manager Chris Drury, who played with Grier at Boston University and the Buffalo Sabers.

Greer comes from an established athletic family. His older brother Chris has been the general manager of the Miami Dolphins since 2016, and his father, Bobby, was an NFL running back and coach with the New England Patriots before taking a front office job with the Patriots, Houston Texans. and dolphins.

“The main thing that my father instilled in us is a work ethic,” Mike Grier said at a press conference in San Jose, California. “He left for work before we got up for school and sometimes he didn’t come home until after dinner or when we were ready for bed. He stayed up late to scout out everything that needed to be done.”

The hiring is a major milestone for the NHL, where black players are a small minority on the league’s rosters and hold few positions in the front office.

Grier said he hopes his appointment will create opportunities for others.

“Since I’ve been playing, the league itself has become more and more diverse and I’m happy to see that,” he said. “My job is to do everything in my power for the San Jose organization, and if I do that, hopefully it will open the door for other minorities to take leadership positions.”

When Grier entered the league with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1996–97 season, he was reported to be the first African-American player born and raised in the United States to play in the NHL. 1981 and Donald Brashear, who was born in Indiana and made his NHL debut in 1993, both played youth hockey in Canada.

Grier, who was 6’1″ and weighed 225 pounds on game days, played hockey at a prep school in St. Louis. Sebastian in Needham, Massachusetts, and was selected in the ninth round of the 1993 draft, 219th overall by the St. Louis team. Louis Blues. That fall, just as Brashear was playing his first games for the Montreal Canadiens, Greer arrived at Boston University as an occasional player.

In his sophomore year, Grier was the top scorer for the BU National Championship team, playing at number one, while Drury was a rookie at number four. Grier began his professional career with Edmonton and played for the Washington Capitals, Sabers and Sharks.

Jonathan Becher, president of Sharks Sports and Entertainment, the franchise’s parent company, said Drury’s feedback played a significant role in the team’s choice, as did the Rangers’ rebound this year, who made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Chris has known Mike for a long time and has given Mike strong support as CEO,” Becher said. “Mike has strength of character. Mike is the leader.”

“I have been privileged to know Mike for three decades and have the utmost respect for him as a person, player and leader,” Drury said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to what he does with the sharks.”

Grier joins franchise in transition: San Jose reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019 but has since missed the playoffs for three years in a row, the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s 30-year history.

Last week, the Sharks fired coach Bob Bowner. Grier will replace Joe Will, who served as acting CEO after Doug Wilson stepped down in April.

Grier said he doesn’t have a coach appointment schedule and is focusing on the NHL Entry Draft, which starts Thursday in Montreal. San Jose doesn’t. 11 general choices. The Sharks have many aging stars, including defensemen Eric Karlsson, Brent Burns and Mark-Eduard Vlasik, who have large contracts that could limit San Jose’s ability to sign free agents.

The team’s two top scorers last season were Timo Meier and Thomas Hurtle with 35 and 30 goals. Meyer is 25 and Gertl is 27.

Grier said he was not looking for a complete overhaul of the team.

“I’m not going to shorten the list,” he said. “There may be some bumps ahead for us, but we will try to get better and improve the squad every day.”