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Mike Grier Is Now The First Black General Manager In NHL History

Mike Grier Is Now The First Black General Manager In NHL History

He used to play for the Sharks as well!

Mike Grier is making history as the first Black general manager (GM) in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL), ESPN reports. 

Grier is a veteran in the NHL, playing 14 seasons in the league for four different teams, including the San Jose Sharks. He retired in 2011, serving in a number of capacities since then including as scout for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2014 to 2018 and most recently as hockey operations adviser for the New York Rangers. Now Grier is making history, recently being named GM by the Sharks, becoming the first Black person to hold the title in NHL history. 

“It’s something I’m extremely proud of. I realized there was a responsibility that comes with the territory, but I’m up for it [with] how I carry myself and how the organization carries themselves… For me, my job is to do the best I can for the San Jose Sharks organization, and if I do that, hopefully it opens the door to give other opportunities to other minorities to get in front-office positions and maybe lead a team down the road as well,” said Grier. 

The Detroit native comes from a long line of sports figures, his older brother Chris Grier serving as GM of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins since 2016, and his father Bobby, also serving as a veteran NFL executive and coach who works as a Dolphins consultant.  Grier said he leans on both his father and brother for a lot of advice as he prepares to step into the new role. 

“As soon as I told my dad about the job, he went right into the mode of giving me tips and advice. I talk to [him and Chris] a lot…It’s something we’ve talked about…the challenges of building rosters and things like that. I lean on them a lot. They’ve got a lot of different perspective because the sports [differ], but I definitely trust their input,” Grier explained. 

The Sharks have missed the playoffs for three consecutive years, the longest in franchise history, finishing sixth last season in the Pacific Division. Grier is set to take over for interim GM Joe Will, who has been in the position since November after GM Doug Wilson stepped down after 19 seasons due to medical reasons. To complicate matters, just four days before Grier’s appointment, the Sharks fired head coach Bob Boughner. Still, the team is confident in Grier’s ability to turn the team around, Sharks president Jonathan Becher calling him the best while acknowledging the historic implications of the appointment. 

"We hired the best general manager available. Mike just happens to be Black. The focus was on finding the best candidate for the job. Having said that, it’s great. It’s part of our pioneering spirit, which is get the most out of everybody and expand the sport. San Jose is a very culturally diverse area as well. So I hope [Mike does] serve as an inspiration [for] lots of people, and then I hope [he’s] the first but certainly not the last," said Becher. 

No matter the challenges, Grier is ready to tackle them all, hoping to follow in his big brother’s footsteps by turning the team around the way Chris did as GM with the Dolphins. His first order of business will be guiding the Sharks through the NHL entry draft. Then he’ll be able to focus on building a competitive team while working around the salary caps. Through it all, Grier promises to remain true to himself and his vision. 

"I think the main thing is to be yourself. You don’t want to go somewhere and be phony. I’m trying to be open and honest, be myself -- have a vision, be clear about your vision and when you come to how you want your vision to go, stick to your process. But the main thing is to be myself," he said. 

Congratulations, Mike on your historic new role! 

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Chiu /AP