On Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks named Mike Grier as the first Black General Manager in the history of the NHL, reports ESPN.
Grier replaces interim GM Joe Will, who had held the position since November when GM Doug Wilson left the club for medical reasons after 19 seasons.
Jonathan Becher, president of the San Jose Sharks, made the announcement that Grier’s hire has the potential to go far in attracting African Americans to the sport.
According to Becher, Grier was the most qualified candidate for the job regardless of color.
“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,” he added. “San Jose is a very culturally diverse area as well. So I hope you do serve as an inspiration to lots of people, and then I hope you’re the first but certainly not the last.”
Grier expressed his excitement about his historic appointment.
“It’s something I’m extremely proud of,” Grier said of being the league’s first Black GM. “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. … 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.”
Grier, who retired in 2011, played 14 seasons in the NHL with four teams, including the Sharks. Before becoming GM, he served as a hockey operations adviser for the New York Rangers last season and was a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2014 to 2018.
Mike’s older brother Chris Grier is currently the GM of the Miami Dolphins and their father Bobby is a long-time executive who works as a consultant for the Dolphins. They both offered Mike congratulations and advice so he could hit the ground running.
“As soon as I told my dad about the job, he went right into the mode of giving me tips and advice,” Grier said. “I talk to [him and Chris] a lot, and my brother’s recently been through this [process] with the Dolphins, where he made some decisions to move on from some players to be better in the future, and he’s turned that team around in about four years.”
Although the Sharks have missed the playoffs for the last three seasons, Grier is looking forward to rebuilding the team into a contender. One of his first assignments is to spot the next talented player in the NHL entry draft, which will host its first round in Montreal on Thursday. Also, the Sharks need a head coach as well, after Bob Boughner was fired last week.
“I think the main thing is to be yourself,” Grier said. “You don’t want to go somewhere and be phony. I’m trying to be open and honest, be myself—have a vision, be clear about your vision and when you come to how you want your vision to go, stick to your process. But the main thing is to be myself.”