Former ice hockey player Mike Grier has made NHL history as the league’s first Black general manager.
According to NHL’s official website, Grier, who played for the San Jose Sharks from 2006 to 2009, was hired as the team’s general manager on July 5. He replaces Doug Wilson, who stepped down as the Sharks’ GM in April after 19 seasons to focus on his health. Assistant GM Joe Will filled the position while the team searched for someone else to fill the role.
“[I’m] really excited to work and to be back in the Bay Area,” the 47-year-old said. “I know there’s been lots of ups and downs, but I’m ready to work hard and get at it and get this thing back on the tracks. We’re going to start winning some games in the ‘Shark Tank’ and get it going again. See you soon.”
The Sharks reportedly haven’t gotten to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the past three seasons, but they own the No. 11 pick in the 2022 draft. As such, Grier is looking to improve the team from there.
“There might be a few bumps in the road ahead, and we might have to step back a little bit to go forward, but we’re going to try and get better and try to make the roster better,” he said. “I think we can improve in every facet, to be honest with you. There are some pieces on the roster that we like that we would like to build around. But I think, overall, there’s not one spot in particular that I think needs work. The draft is No. 1. Then we’ve got free agency coming up. We’ll have to dig into that…then development camp and a coach.”
Grier’s groundbreaking achievement comes 65 years after the first Black NHL player, Canadian native Willie O’Ree, was drafted into the league in 1957. Since its players have historically endured heavy racism, Ree overcame many hurdles to become the hockey icon he’s become today.