The San Jose Sharks have hired Mike Grier as the first Black general manager in the NHL’s history.
Grier played 1,060 games over 14 seasons in the NHL, suiting up for four teams, including the Sharks. He most recently worked as a hockey operations adviser for the New York Rangers this past season and spent four years as a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“The San Jose Sharks are a franchise with a history of success and I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting this franchise back to its winning ways,” he said.
Grier is replacing Joe Will, who was interim general manager after Doug Wilson went on medical leave in November. Wilson, who retired in April, led the team to 14 playoff appearances, a Presidents’ Trophy and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
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The Sharks’ current three-year playoff drought, however, is the longest in franchise history.
Grier, who played on the Presidents’ Trophy team, comes from a family of sports executives. His brother, Chris, is general manager of the Miami Dolphins. Their father, Bobby Grier, has been an NFL executive for more than 20 years.
“Unknowingly, you have been preparing me for this job since I was about 10 years old,” Mike Grier said.
Grier said he is proud of his groundbreaking role and that the league has become more diverse since his playing days.
“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,” he said.
Grier will have his work cut out for him. The draft is this week and free agency opens on July 13.
The Sharks fired head coach Bob Boughner and his assistants last week to allow the new GM to pick his own coach. Grier said he didn’t have a timetable for naming a coach.
The roster is also strapped for cap space. With just $5.6 million of available cap space, the Sharks have a significant amount of money tied up in aging players. Defensemen Erik Karlsson (32), Brent Burns (37) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (35) have a combined $26.5 million cap hit.
Grier said he would like to see the Sharks be a “tenacious, highly competitive, in-your-face, fast, hard-to-play-against team.”
“That’s what you see when you watch the playoffs. That’s what wins in his league, and that’s what we hope to be.”