Mike Grier's legacy

As the Sabres are looking to the past, one player that made leaps and bounds was Mike Grier.
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs
Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Buffalo Sabres are turning back the clock with the hiring of Lindy Ruff. One player who excelled during Ruff's tenure was right winger Mike Grier. He has become a pioneer since his playing days in Buffalo.

After starting his career with the Edmonton Oilers and the Washington Capitals, Grier became a Sabre after a trade in 2004. During the 2005/2006 season which saw him play 81 games, he had four game-winning goals, a career best. His heroics helped lead the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals, losing the Hurricanes in seven games.

He spent the following three seasons with the San Jose Sharks before resigning with Buffalo in 2009. During the season, Buffalo was second in penalty kill for the season. In his time with Buffalo and San Jose, he was on both team's top penalty-killing lines.

He played in his 1,000th game as a Sabre in 2010 before announcing his retirement in 2011. As a player in the NHL, he was only the fourth United States-born black player in the league. The Sabres as an organization has the most African American players to play for the franchise in league history with 15.

Since his Sabres retirement, Grier has continued to break barriers. He spent a few years in the front office of the Chicago Blackhawks and as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. In 2021, he was named Hockey Operations Advisor to the New York Rangers.

A year later on July 5, 2022, he made history by becoming the first black general manager in the NHL returning to the San Jose Sharks. During his introductory press conference, he commented on how important it meant to him and the responsibility that came with his hire.

Grier will continue to break barriers as he continues his post-playing career. Buffalo should be proud of his accomplishments both as a Sabre and beyond.