Retired hockey player Mike Grier named San Jose Sharks general manager

Mike Grier, a retired hockey player, has been named general manager of the San Jose Sharks, making him the league’s first African-American in that role.

Kevin Weekes, an ESPN commentator and former NHL goaltender, broke the story first.

Grier, 47, would not be the first person in his family to hold that position with a major sports team, despite becoming the NHL’s first black general manager. Chris, his older brother, who has been the general manager of the Miami Dolphins since 2016, holds that honor.

Mike Grier #25 of the San Jose Sharks looks on against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center on April 21, 2009 in Anaheim

Mike Grier, a retired hockey player, is set to be named general manager of the San Jose Sharks, making history as the first African American to hold the position for an NHL franchise.

Although the 47-year-old Grier would be the NHL's first black general manager, he wouldn't be the first member of his family to hold the title with a professional team.  That accolade belongs to his older brother, Chris (pictured), who has served as the Miami Dolphins' general manager since 2016.

Although the 47-year-old Grier would be the NHL’s first black general manager, he wouldn’t be the first member of his family to hold the title with a professional team. That accolade belongs to his older brother, Chris (pictured), who has served as the Miami Dolphins’ general manager since 2016.

Grier's father, Bobby (pictured left speaking with Patriots owner Bob Kraft in the 1990s) was Boston College's first full-time black assistant football coach and served in coaching and front- office in the NFL.

Additionally, the brothers’ father, Bobby, was Boston College’s first full-time black assistant coach and later served as an assistant and executive for the New England Patriots before joining the Texans and Houston Dolphins.

Dirk Graham remains the NHL's first and only black head coach, having coached the Blackhawks for part of a season in 1999

Dirk Graham, who coached the Blackhawks for part of a season in 1999, is still the league’s first and only black head coach.

During his 14 NHL seasons, young Grier played for the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabers and San Jose Sharks. The former Boston University star has since served as an advisor for the New York Rangers and scout for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The NHL has been slower to integrate than more varied leagues like the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.

The NHL didn’t have a black player until Willie O’Ree made his debut for the Boston Bruins in 1958.

The league didn’t see its first black coach for 40 years, when Dirk Graham briefly served as the Chicago Blackhawks for 59 games in 1999. Graham, who now works as a scout for the Sharks, remains the only African head coach -American. in NHL history.

Grier will replace Sharks interim general manager Joe Will, who took over in November when Doug Wilson stepped down for medical reasons. The team recently fired head coach Bob Boughner and his staff, which means Grier will be tasked with finding his replacement.

Willie O'Ree, 22, of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, was the first black player in the NHL


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Catherine J. Martinez