Mike Grier

Last updated

Mike Grier
Mike Grier Sharks.jpg
Grier during a February 2007 game
Born (1975-01-05) January 5, 1975 (age 46)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 227 lb (103 kg; 16 st 3 lb)
Position Right wing
Shot Right
Played for Edmonton Oilers
Washington Capitals
Buffalo Sabres
San Jose Sharks
National teamFlag of the United States.svg  United States
NHL Draft 219th overall, 1993
St. Louis Blues
Playing career 19962011

Michael James Grier (born January 5, 1975) is an American former professional ice hockey winger who played for four teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) – the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and San Jose Sharks. Primarily a checking forward, he played 1,060 NHL games over 14 NHL seasons. Grier was the first African-American player in the history of the NHL to exclusively train in his home country, the United States. [1] [2] He currently works as the adviser to hockey operations for the New York Rangers. He also coached at Saint Sebastian's School, where he played his high school hockey. He also coached his sons Boston Jr. Terriers 03 AAA Team.


Early years

His father is Bobby Grier, who used to be the Associate Director of Pro Personnel for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to that, Bobby Grier was a running back coach, director of pro scouting, and vice-president of player personnel for the New England Patriots of the NFL. (The elder Grier should not be confused with the Bobby Grier who broke the color barrier in the 1956 Sugar Bowl.) Mike's brother, Chris currently serves as the general manager for the Miami Dolphins, a position he has held since 2016. Another notable athlete in his family is Pro Bowl NFL Defensive Lineman Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier.[ citation needed ]

Grier was raised in Holliston, Massachusetts, where he attended and played hockey at St. Sebastian's School. At age 9 Michael appeared in Sports Illustrated's "Faces In The Crowd" section in issue 06-18-84/Vol. 60, No. 25, it read: Michael, 9, a defenseman for the 35-19-8 Holliston Mites in the 7-to-9 year-old division of the Westboro ice hockey league, had 114 goals and 43 assists this season. In 1982-1983 he racked up 113 goals and 104 assists in 52 games.

Playing career

Grier was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the ninth round (219th overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, and was considered a long-shot[ citation needed ] to make an NHL team. He spent his early playing days with Saint Sebastian's School and later with Boston University, culminating in his best amateur season in 1994–95, where he was named a first team all-star. During his time at BU, Grier's NHL rights were dealt to the Edmonton Oilers along with star goaltender Curtis Joseph in exchange for a pair of first round picks.

After leaving college, Grier immediately cracked the Oilers lineup as a checking-line right-winger, scoring 32 points and bearing a respectable +7 plus-minus rating. During his time in Edmonton, Grier was best known for provoking Chris Simon of the Washington Capitals in 1997. Grier allegedly made derogatory comments about Simon's Ojibwa heritage, and Simon allegedly responded with a racial slur directed at Grier, and struck him in the head with his stick. Although the spoken words were never confirmed, Simon was suspended three games as a result of using his stick to hit Grier. [3] [4] Grier played six seasons with the Oilers organization, including two in which he scored twenty goals.

On October 2, 2002, in order to free up roster space, Grier was traded to the Washington Capitals for a pair of draft choices. Incidentally, this put Grier and Simon on the same team for a short time; however, Simon was traded to Chicago after playing 10 games in the 2002–03 season. The Capitals attempted to put a Stanley Cup-caliber team together, primarily built around star forward Jaromír Jágr and goaltender Olaf Kölzig. The team disappointed on the ice, although Grier remained a reliable checking player.

This did not last long, however, as Washington traded Grier on March 4, 2004, to the Buffalo Sabres for Czech prospect Jakub Klepiš. Grier finished the season with Buffalo, scoring nine points, but the Sabres failed to make the playoffs. During the 2005–06 NHL season, Grier set a personal record, scoring four game-winning goals for the Sabres and contributing to their run to the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals. Grier was then signed to a free agent deal by the San Jose Sharks, where he recorded 16 goals, including three shorthanded, in his first season with San Jose. He scored nine and 10 goals in his next two seasons with the Sharks, respectively.

On August 10, 2009, Grier returned to the Buffalo Sabres.[ citation needed ]

Grier's biggest contribution to the San Jose Sharks and Buffalo Sabres has been his penalty killing ability. San Jose ranked 14th, 1st, and 4th in penalty killing in the three years Grier played with the team. In the 2009–10 season, Buffalo was second overall in the NHL in penalty killing. Grier has been a part of the top penalty killing units for these teams.

Grier is also known for his toughness, separating his shoulder and having it popped back in on numerous occasions before finally electing for surgery.[ citation needed ]

Grier played his 1,000th NHL game on November 3, 2010, against the Boston Bruins, becoming the 254th player in NHL history to reach the milestone. [5] After not being re-signed by Buffalo for the 2011–12 season, Grier announced his retirement from the NHL on December 1, 2011. [6]

Post-playing career

After retiring Grier served as assistant coach with various NHL teams [7] until he was hired by the New York Rangers as hockey operations advisor on May 19, 2021. [8]

Awards and honors

Medal record
Representing Flag of the United States.svg  United States
Ice hockey
World Championships
Bronze medal icon (B initial).svg 2004 Prague
All-Hockey East All-Star 1994–95
AHCA East First-Team All-American 1994–95

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season TeamLeagueGP G A Pts PIM GPGAPtsPIM
1992–93 St. Sebastian's School ISL 2216274332
1993–94 Boston University HE 39991858
1994–95 Boston UniversityHE3719264585
1995–96 Boston UniversityHE3821264782
1996–97 Edmonton Oilers NHL 7915173245123144
1997–98 Edmonton OilersNHL669615731222413
1998–99 Edmonton OilersNHL822024445441126
1999–2000 Edmonton OilersNHL659223168
2000–01 Edmonton OilersNHL742016362060008
2001–02 Edmonton OilersNHL828172532
2002–03 Washington Capitals NHL821517323661122
2003–04 Washington CapitalsNHL688122032
2003–04 Buffalo Sabres NHL141894
2005–06 Buffalo SabresNHL817162328183582
2006–07 San Jose Sharks NHL81161733431122427
2007–08 San Jose SharksNHL789132224130112
2008–09 San Jose SharksNHL621013232560006
2009–10 Buffalo SabresNHL731012221462022
2010–11 Buffalo SabresNHL73511161270110
NHL totals106016222138351010114142872


YearTeamEvent GPGAPtsPIM
1995 United States WJC 702212
2004 United States WC 91238
Junior totals702212
Senior totals91238

See also

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  1. Allen, Kevin (January 14, 2008). "Willie O'Ree still blazing way in NHL 50 years later". USA Today . Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  2. The first African American in the NHL, Val James, played two years of junior hockey in Quebec.
  3. "Simon suspended for hitting player with stick". Sports.espn.go.com. March 10, 2007. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  4. "Mike Grier, First American Born Black NHL Player". Regalmag.com. July 2, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  5. "Notebook: Sabres Prep For Boston | Nhl.Com". Sabres.nhl.com. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  6. "Mike Grier retires after 14 seasons". ESPN.com. December 1, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  7. "Rangers name Mike Grier hockey operations advisor". Sportsnet.ca. May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  8. "Mike Grier Named Hockey Operations Advisor". NHL.com. May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 20, 2021.