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Mike Grier, former player for the San Jose Sharks, was named the team's new general manager. Photo: Don Smith/Getty Images
Mike Grier, former player for the San Jose Sharks, was named the team's new general manager. Photo: Don Smith/Getty Images

Mike Grier becomes the first Black General Manager in NHL history

The San Jose Sharks named the 14-year NHL veteran as the fifth general manager in the team's history.

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The San Jose Sharks made a historic hire with its announcement that Mike Grier will be its next general manager.

Grier, who will succeed longtime Sharks GM Doug Wilson and interim GM Joe Will, has broken a long-standing barrier as the first Black GM in the National Hockey League’s 102-year history.

“I am extremely proud and grateful to be given the opportunity to be the general manager of the San Jose Sharks,” said Grier in a statement. “Along with my staff, I look forward to the challenge of building a fast, competitive, and hardworking team that Sharks fans will enjoy watching and be proud of.” 

A former NHL player, Grier played 14 seasons in the league, playing for four different teams. Drafted in the ninth round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, he made his league debut three years later with the Edmonton Oilers. 

Grier’s playing career included a three-year stint with the Sharks. In his 221 games with San Jose, he scored a total of 35 goals and recorded 43 assists.

“One of the things I remember most about playing in San Jose is the home ice advantage that our fans bring through their passion and energy, making SAP Center one of the most difficult buildings to play in,” Grier added. 

After retiring from playing, Grier built his resume as a scout, coach, and executive.

He started out as a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, and later became an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. His most recent role was this past season as a hockey operations advisor for the New York Rangers. 

When it comes to his distinction as the first Black GM in NHL history, Grier noted 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,” he told ESPN

“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,” he continued. 

According to hockey historian and author Eric Zweig, the reason it took the NHL more than a century to hire a Black general manager is an effect of the lack of Black representation in the league.

“There hasn’t been a large pool of Black hockey players,” he said. “For years and years… all the management, all the coaching jobs were filled by ex-players.”

In 2020, around 5% of the league's players were Black or people of color. That is a large discrepancy compared to 40% in Major League Baseball, 60% in Major League Soccer, 73% in the National Football League, and around 83% in the NBA and WNBA, respectively.

Grier’s new GM position makes him the third member of the Grier family to become a lead executive for a team in one of the North American sports leagues.

His brother, Chris, has been the Miami Dolphins’ GM since 2016. Their father, Bobby Grier, has been an NFL executive for nearly 30 years, and currently works as a Dolphins consultant. 

Among Grier’s first tasks as the new Sharks GM will be to guide the team through the NHL Entry Draft, which begins today, July 7.

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