SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks made it official on Tuesday morning at the Shark Tank.
President Jonathan Becher and Assistant GM Joe Will introduced Mike Grier as the new general manager of Team Teal on the concourse of the SAP Center.
It was a historical moment in sports as Grier becomes the first black GM in the history of the NHL. In a league where the majority of its players are white, the impact is huge for a league that has been subject to criticism regarding its lack of diversity. A fact that Becher recognized but also downplayed on the decision to hire the fifth general manager for the franchise.
“We hired the best general manager available,” said Becher. “Mike (Grier) just happens to be black. The focus was finding the best candidate for the job. Having said that, I think it’s great, it’s part of our pioneering spirit, which is get the most out of everybody, expand the sport. San Jose is a very culturally diverse area as well."
Grier, who had worked previously with the New York Rangers as part of Chris Drury’s staff, is the new sheriff in Silicon Valley. He takes over a franchise that has missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, a franchise worse, and looks to right a ship that has many holes to fill against a tight, flat salary cap without much wiggle room to maneuver.
Grier joins his family’s legacy as men who have or currently oversee running a professional sports team. His brother Chris, is currently the GM of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and his father Bobby, was the Associate Director of Pro Personnel for the NFL’s Houston Texans of the National Football League from 2000-2016.
Grier credits his father Bobby, instilling his work ethic to both him and his brother Chris for how they both were able to land jobs as general managers.
“He would often be off to work before left for school. Sometimes he wouldn’t get home till after dinner when we were ready to get to bed. So just the time and effort it took and his belief that if you treat people the right way, if you want to have a winning franchise, it starts with how you treat people. His ability to never leave a stone unturned,” Grier said.
When asked if he would be in favor of a total rebuild of the franchise, Grier balked at the notion that the Sharks need to do that to once again have success again on the ice.
“We’re not looking to tear this down like Arizona (Coyotes) or some teams have down in the past. Yes there’s some challenges with the salary cap. But I think the majority of the league is dealing with the flat cap and they have their issues. For us we’re not looking to rebuild, Jonathan (Becher) said it at dinner once, there are a lot of ‘R’ words that you can use. But for us there might be a few bumps in the road ahead and maybe we gotta step back a little bit to go forward. But we’re going to try to get better, make the roster better every day. Our goal is to win here,” said Grier.
There were a lot of Sharks alumni on hand at the press conference, with some of them former teammates of Grier. None of them were surprised that Grier ended up becoming a GM.
“He has all the characteristics and pedigree of his dad and brother,” said Mike Ricci who is currently a scout and development coach for the Sharks. “I’m a big football fan, so I know of them. Listening to him talk now, it’s what we need around here and what we gotta work for.”
The NHL’s all-time games player leader and Mr. Shark himself, Patrick Marleau believed Grier had it what it takes to be a GM when both were teammates in the early 2000’s when Grier played for the Sharks.
“Yeah you kinda saw it early on (when he was a player). “He always liked to talk about players and (their) movements. He talked about football, franchises, organizations. So, he was always into it (on the business side of things). You can really see he enjoys it.”
Another former teammate, Devin Setoguchi said Grier always looked after him and his wife when he first came up and learned how to be a professional from Grier setting the example.
“I think you can always just tell. Now later on (after) growing up and seeing the way Mike (Grier) handled himself and the professionalism on the way he approached the game, that you can definitely see that,” Setoguchi said.
Jonathan Cheechoo, the former Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy winner when he scored 56 goals for the Sharks back in 2005-06, believes that Grier is going to bring the same competitive spirit and accountability that made him successful as a player will lead to success in his new role.
“He held everybody accountable (when he played for the Sharks) that was on that team. If you weren’t playing as hard as he was, you better get your butt in gear. You look at a guy like that, he brings everything to the table. Seeing him in this role and the work he has put in prior, is not a big surprise. You could tell that this something he was destined for,” Cheechoo said.
The NHL draft is two days away and free agency starts next week. There is also the process of searching for the next head coach for San Jose as well as filling out a roster for the 2022-23 season. Grier has many challenges ahead of him, some coming sooner than later, but given his experience in the NHL and his pedigree, the Sharks look to be headed in the right direction, making this a good choice for San Jose.
Time will tell if and when Grier can get the Sharks to once again be contenders for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
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Right Winger Kevin Labanc after the Sharks 7-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on November 17, 2022.
Goaltender James Reimer after the Sharks 7-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on November 17, 2022.
Head coach David Quinn after the Sharks 7-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on November 17, 2022.