SAN JOSE, California. – The San Jose Sharks made Mike Grier the first black general manager in NHL history.
Grier is taking over the position that became vacant when Doug Wilson resigned earlier this year due to ill health.
He spent three of his 14 NHL seasons with the Sharks, from 2006-2009, and has spent the last decade fulfilling various coaching and scouting roles in the league. He was most recently a hockey operations advisor to the New York Rangers.
Grier’s candidacy was finally selected after a protracted search involving dozens of applicants and spanning nearly three months since Wilson announced his retirement on April 7. Wilson took a vacation in November.
“It means a lot to me,” Grier said when he was introduced to the media on Tuesday. I don’t take this lightly. I am aware that this appointment comes with a share of responsibility. But I’m up for the challenge.
“The way I act and the way this organization acts, I believe we will do good and pave the way for those who follow. »
“I hope you will be an inspiration to many and not be the last,” said club president Jonathan Becher.
The landmark hire comes less than a week after interim general manager Joe Will announced that head coach Bob Boughner and three of his assistants would not be returning next season. Will explained that he made the decision two months after the season ended to give the new general manager a free hand.
Grier’s task will be difficult in San Jose, rebuilding a team that missed the playoffs in three straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Grier needs to get to work quickly, hiring a new coach and taking care of Thursday and Friday drafts and the free agent market next week. The Sharks have the 11th pick of the first round.
“It’s a challenge to fix everything quickly but in the right way,” he said. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to. »
Grier added that he wasn’t interested in completely rebuilding the club but that it might be necessary to take a step back to move forward better.
The 47-year-old comes from a family of successful sports leaders. His brother, Chris, is the general manager of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and his father, Bobby, was a longtime coach and board member of the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans.
He chose hockey instead and played 1,060 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabers and Sharks. He has 162 career goals and 221 assists.
Grier says he’s been preparing for the role since he was 10, based on discussions with his brother and father. “I wanted to talk about football; They wanted to talk about hockey. I rely heavily on them. They have a different perspective because of the sport, but I trust their views. »
“Growing up, we would talk over meals about the challenges of building a workout and stuff like that,” he recalled.
The NHL values diversity, with several women also receiving leadership and coaching opportunities.
The Arizona Coyotes announced Tuesday that Kelsey Koelzer and Kori Cheverie will serve as assistants to head coach André Tourigny during the team’s development camp next week.