On Tuesday July 5, the San Jose Sharks made history by naming Mike Grier their new general manager, or GM.
Grier is the first Black GM ever in the NHL. It follows what was a pretty terrific career as an NHL player. He played 14 seasons for four different teams: Edmonton, Buffalo, Washington, and San Jose. He also reached an Eastern Conference Final with Buffalo in 2006 and played 1,060 games—getting past the 1,000 games played mark is a huge achievement for any player!
But now, he's starting a new challenge as a general manager. And he didn't have that long to get comfortable either. His first weekend in his new job was a huge one: the NHL Draft in Montreal!
What does a GM do?
The GM isn't always the most well-known person running a sports team. Fans think mostly about the coach—after all, that is the person there by the ice or the field making all the choices and telling players what to do next!
But while the coach gives the orders during the game, the general manager is the person who actually chooses the players who will be on the team. The GM is the team builder. This person makes trades, signs contracts, and chooses the types of players that the team is going to try to find and develop. Big and tough? Speedy and skilled? Younger and unknown? Older and experienced?
Making these sorts of choices is what the day-to-day life of a GM is all about. And, to top it all off, they also have to make sure that they don't spend more money on players than the team can afford. No pressure!
Draft weekend comes fast
One of the biggest days in the year for any GM is the NHL Draft. This is when teams get to choose from the top young players in the world and bring them into their organization. Even though most of the players chosen on draft weekend won't make the NHL team for years (if they do at all) making the right choices can go a long way to the team having a bright future.
So this meant that Grier couldn't waste any time getting ready to lead the Sharks. He made a trade early in the draft, giving the Sharks two extra chances to picks players. They left with nine new players in the organization, one of the highest numbers of any NHL team.
Of course, only the future will tell how well those choices work out. Grier is taking over for Doug Wilson, a successful GM who ran San Jose for almost 20 years and led the team to many winning seasons and one Stanley Cup Final in 2016. But Wilson also left the team in the lower part of the league the last couple seasons and badly in need of a rebuild.
That is going to be Grier's job. Turning the Sharks back into one of the most feared teams in the league. He's definitely been in hockey long enough to know what works and what doesn't. We wish him the best of luck!