Mike Grier became the first Black general manager in NHL history when he was hired by the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
The 47-year-old replaces Doug Wilson, who stepped down April 7 after 19 seasons to focus on his health. Assistant GM Joe Will held the position while San Jose conducted its search.
Grier played for the Sharks from 2006-09.
“Really excited to work and to be back in the Bay Area,” he said. “I know there’s been lots of ups and downs but I’m ready to work hard and get at it and get this thing back on the tracks. We’re going to start winning some games in the “Shark Tank” and get it going again. See you soon.”
Grier said there is no timetable to hire a coach after Bob Boughner was fired July 1, with the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft on Thursday (7 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and Friday (11 am ET; NHLN, ESPN+ , SN, TVAS), and the start of free agency July 13. The Sharks have not reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons after qualifying 14 of the previous 15. They were 32-27-13 this season, 20 points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card from the Western Conference.
San Jose owns the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft. Eight players can become restricted free agents, including defenseman mario ferraro and forwards John Leonard and Jonathan Dahlen.
“We’re not looking to tear this down, like Arizona (Coyotes) or some teams have done in the past,” Grier said. “Yes, there are some challenges with the (NHL) salary cap, but I think the majority of the League is dealing with the flat cap and they have the [same] issue. So for us, we’re not looking to rebuild … there are a lot of ‘R’ words you could use. For us, there might be a few bumps in the road ahead and we might have to step back a little bit to go forward, but we’re going to try and get better and try to make the roster better.
“I think we can improve in every facet, to be honest with you. There are some pieces on the roster that we like, that we would like to build around. But I think, overall, there’s not one spot in particular that I think needs work. The draft is No. 1, then we’ve got free agency coming up. We’ll have to dig into that, and Joe and I have already started on that a bit. Then development camp and a coach.”
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Grier worked last season as hockey operations adviser for the New York Rangers, assisting them with hockey-related decisions and off-ice player and prospect development. He also helped with on-ice player development with Hartford, their American Hockey League affiliate.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Mike for nearly three decades and I have always had the utmost respect for him as a person, player and executive,” Rangers president and GM Chris Drury said. “I am proud to call him a friend and I look forward to see what he’ll do with the Sharks. We will miss him in New York, but we wish him and his family all the best with this new opportunity.”
Prior to joining the Rangers, Grier was an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils for two seasons (2018-20) and a professional scout for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2014-18.
A former forward, Grier played 14 NHL seasons after being selected by the St. Louis Blues in the ninth round (No. 219) of the 1993 NHL Draft. He had 383 points (162 goals, 221 assists) in 1,060 regular-season games for the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabers and Sharks, and 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 101 playoff games.
“While we were intrigued and appreciative of many candidates, especially those that ended up being the finalists, Mike separated himself from the pack by his continued commitment to culture,” Sharks president Jonathan Becher said. “Culture, not just on the ice, but off the ice as well. Mike is a true testament to one of our organization’s principles, and that is say what you mean, and then do what you say.”
Grier’s older brother Chris is GM of the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League.
“I am incredibly proud of Mike,” Chris Grier said. “The San Jose Sharks organization is getting a man of high character and integrity. He has always been respected on and off the ice by his peers.
“Mike will bring his work ethic and passion every day to the job. Mike understands the game, with intelligence, experience and knowledge to succeed as a GM. Our parents deserve all the credit for how they raised us. We were very fortunate to be able to observe and learn from our father, Bobby, while growing up. Congratulations to Mike and the San Jose Sharks on a great hire!”
NHL.com independent correspondent Chelena Goldman contributed to this report