MONTREAL – Mike Grier didn’t get a chance to wade into his new job as general manager of the San Jose Sharks. A day after he was named as the first Black GM in NHL history, the former Rangers executive was right in the thick of things, attending the league’s GM meetings on the day before the draft.
“Yeah, it's been a whirlwind couple of days, but I'm enjoying it,’’ Grier said Wednesday afternoon inside the Sheraton hotel in Montreal. “Sometimes it's good just to jump right into the pool and see if you can swim.’’
Grier, 47, whose older brother Chris Grier, is the GM of the NFL Miami Dolphins, was hired by the Sharks after spending a year working in the Rangers front office as an adviser to Rangers GM Chris Drury, his former college teammate at Boston University. The son of former NFL running back Buddy Grier, who later was a scout and football executive, Grier played 14 seasons and 1,060 games in the NHL after being a ninth-round draft pick by the St. Louis Blues in 1993.
After his retirement from the NHL in 2011, Grier worked as a scout and a high school coach for years, and served as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils for two years before becoming the first person Drury hired when he took over as Rangers GM in the spring of 2021.
“Working with Chris was great,’’ Grier said. “He and (Rangers assistant GM) Ryan Martin were terrific for me. They had me in on every aspect of the organization, so from them I learned really to be detailed, to be patient, not to overreact to wins and losses and situations, and when trades or players become available, you’ve got to do your due diligence and your research and take your time and try and make sure you get it right.’’
Grier said he is proud to be the NHL’s first person of color to be a GM, and he is pleased the league is becoming more diverse. The Devils on Wednesday promoted Kate Madigan to assistant GM, making her the fifth woman assistant GM in the league.
“It means a lot for me personally and for other minorities in the hockey world,’’ he said. “I think the game's gotten more and more diverse since my playing days. There's more minorities and Black players playing, and there's more minorities in the front office and coaching and in the staff, and there's more women involved in the game as well.
“So the game's growing, and getting more diverse,’’ he said. “And I'm part of that, luckily. And hopefully I can do a good job and keep opening some doors for people that follow behind me.’’
While he was enjoying his first official duties as GM, though, Grier was also working with a heavy heart after the sudden death of Bryan Marchment, the former NHL defenseman who was a scout with the Sharks.
“It's a sad day for me personally (and a) very sad day for our organization,’’ Grier said when asked about Marchment. “He meant a lot to a lot of people in our organization, our players, our staff… For me personally. He was great to me in my first few years (as a player) in Edmonton. He treated me with respect right away and made me feel at home.’’
The Sharks have the 11th pick overall in the first round of the draft, which will be held in the Bell Centre on Thursday.
Rangers open against Lightning
The NHL released the 2022-23 schedule for all 32 teams on Wednesday. The Rangers will open the season at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Final on Oct. 11, then play two back-to-back road games in Minnesota and Winnipeg, before returning home for a four-game homestand. They will play 16 sets of back-to-back games, their longest homestand is five games, from March 14-21, and their longest road trip is four games. They have three such trips.