MONTREAL – “Mike, it’s gold in the bar! A fantastic human being in the same vein as Marc-André Fleury and he has a hockey spirit. »
A great friendship has developed between Mike Grier and Alain Nasreddine since the two men worked together on the New Jersey Devils coaching staff for two seasons (2018-2019 and 2019-2020).
Their complicity reached another level from December 2019 when Nasreddine was taken on as interim head coach following the sacking of John Hynes.
“I relied on him a lot to help me. We have a great relationship and stayed in touch after he left the Devils,” said the 46-year-old Quebecer, who was recently hired as Peter DeBoer’s assistant at the Dallas Stars.
Before Nasreddine knew him behind a bench, he already had a great deal of respect for Grier and his playing career, which spanned more than 1,000 games on the Bettman circuit. In New Jersey, he quickly realized that Grier would take the next leg of his journey with ease.
“I just didn’t know if he would choose to be head coach or general manager. Two years ago I would have said it was only a matter of time before he became head coach. In the end he chose the other path, that of leadership,” Nasreddine explained RDS.approx.
Nasreddine had known for over a month that Grier was in contention for the San Jose Sharks’ general manager title.
“It’s very well deserved. He had told me that he was one of the candidates and that he hoped to get the job, I’m very happy for him,” noted Nasreddine.
Grier’s only NHL coaching experience is with the Devils. His good friend Chris Drury hired him for a year as the New York Rangers’ hockey operations coordinator, specializing in player development. Before joining the Devils, he was a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks for four years.
On the one hand, seven years of experience is not enough to open the doors of a manager’s office. To this equation we must add his 1000 games as a player, but above all the very interesting profile of his family.
His brother Chris has been general manager of the Miami Dolphins in the NFL since 2016. The father, Bobby, has worked in the NFL since 1981. After a coaching role, he moved into recruitment and player management.
Nasreddine has no illusions, knowing that the Mandate promises to be colossal to set the Sharks straight. But when he adds all these arguments together, he concludes that Grier has what it takes to be successful.
” 100%! He’s very intelligent and composed, he doesn’t get carried away by emotions. He did everything in that environment and comes from a family of leaders. He grew up in that environment,” Nasreddine reasoned.
“It’s not an easy job waiting for him in San Jose. But I have no doubt that he can achieve that,” he continued.
Growing up, Grier recalls the discussions around the table about how to set up a sports organization and instill the right culture in it. Accustomed to this context, Grier is not one to brag about the accomplishments of his father and brother. The topic became more and more laughable.
“I’m not a big fan of the NFL, but I’m like everyone else. I told him the Dolphins were my new favorite team. Every time they lost when I arrived in the morning I would tell him to pass the message to his brother to wake him up. We had fun with it,” said Nasreddine.
“A lot of people didn’t know what his brother did for a living. He’s the CEO of an NFL club, that’s something. Now it’s Mike who runs an NHL club, it’s impressive as a family but they’re such good people,” he continued.
Nasreddine recognizes the historic significance of his friend’s appointment as the NHL’s first black general manager. However, he wouldn’t want anyone to question Grier’s abilities.
“Of course it’s a historic moment, we’ve been talking about it a lot lately, except I’m not the type to stop it. Yes, he will make history and he will always have managed to break down that barrier. But I watch the hockey man and he deserves it. He will do such a good job there. In the end I’m glad he’s the first black CEO, that’s something. We all remember Willy O’Ree, now Mike Grier is associated with it,” Nasreddine concluded.