The NHL just made history.
The San Jose Sharks have hired the first black general manager, with Mike Grier taking on the position.
After Sharks president Jonathan Becher and assistant general manager Joe Will formally introduced Grier to fans and media at SAP Center, Grier was asked about the groundbreaking move.
“It’s something that I’m extremely proud of,” 47-year-old Grier told ESPN. “Since my playing days, the league itself has gotten more and more diverse with more Black players in the league and minorities in the league. There’s more women and minorities in the front office and scouting and coaching positions. From my standpoint, that’s something that I’m happy to see and excited to see.”
Becher made it clear that Grier’s talent ultimately won the 14-year NHL vet the job.
“We hired the best general manager available,” Becher said. “Mike just happens to be Black. The focus was on finding the best candidate for the job. “Having said that, it’s great. It’s part of our pioneering spirit, which is to get the most out of everybody and expand the sport. San Jose is a very culturally diverse area as well. So I hope you do serve as an inspiration of lots of people, and then I hope you’re the first but certainly not the last.”
As he noted, Grier’s not new to the NHL as he got his start after being drafted by the St Louis Blues in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and would go on to make his mark with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and the Sharks.
In 2011, after Buffalo decided not to resign him, he retired and became a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks and then moved on to the tri-state area with roles like an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils and hockey operations advisor for the New York Rangers.
Being involved in the business side of sports is a family affair. His father, Bobby, played running back at the University of Iowa before hanging up his cleats and taking on front office jobs. He’d hold positions like Associate Director of Pro Scouting for the Houston Texans and director of pro scouting, and vice-president of player personnel for the New England Patriots.