NATION PROFILE: MIKE GRIER

Lowetide
April 26 2013 07:28AM

One of the toughest players to don an Oiler uniform, Mike Grier combined aggressive play, forechecking and some skill to deliver effective play for the Edmonton Oilers of the late 1990's and early 2000's. He was a member of what might the most effective checking trio in club history, and man could he play through pain. 

Mike Grier was taken deep in the 1993 NHL entry draft (9th round) by St. Louis, and enjoyed a strong college career with Boston University. During his time there, Grier was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award (1994-95) and played a major role on the national champions Terriers that spring. 

The Oilers were interested in Grier, but GM Glen Sather (who hadn't seen him) wondered about his ability to play at the highest levels of the game.

  • Kevin Prendergast: “The scouts all wanted Mike but Glen (GM Sather) didn’t know much about him. I remember Glen saying ‘he weighs 265 pounds, he’ll never fit into a pair of pants.”’

Mike Grier was a unique hockey player, and what made him memorable was his ability to hit people. Hard.

THE TRADE

 

Keenan sent away an outstanding goaltender and a prospect winger who would go on to play 14 seasons in the NHL and deliver complete effort every night. Mike Grier being involved in a deal (in a roundabout way) for Shayne Corson was fitting: he was the absolute antithesis of Corson.

EARLY CAREER

Oh my GOD could Mike Grier grind defensemen into powder. The big man worked very hard every shift and delivered punishment to opposition players. And it had an impact.

  • Journal columnist Jim Matheson: His hitting ability was legendary. Nobody I’ve ever seen hit harder or cleaner. He obliterated people. He skated right through players, like he was rolling through an amber light at an intersection. He could teach today’s young players how to body-check, rather than throw themselves at a player. You skate through them. If you were ever in Grier’s train tracks, you were history. “After we beat Colorado (1998), one of their trainers told me their players were scared silly of Mike,” said former Oilers’ trainer Ken Lowe.

Matheson's outstanding item on Grier at the time of his retirement is here. A few words on playing through pain. Grier had an incredible threshold, and I remember well watching him hit an opponent--knock his shoulder out of its socket--scream in pain, skate back to the bench, get it put back in and then take his next shift. Seriously. 

  • "Those present said they heard the scream all the way up in the press box," reported Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service sportswriter Dan Noxon, of the incident. Grier then headed off the ice to have it reset, "doubled over by pain, knowing another blinding, white-hot flash would rip through his upper body when the trainers reset the joint," Noxon wrote. "Two minutes later, Grier was back on the ice, taking his regular shift." Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/mike-grier-1#ixzz2RZmn1BCx

THE BATTLE OF ALBERTA....IS OVER!

  • Hockey East First All-Star Team (1995)
  • NCAA East First All-American Team (1995)
  • key member of NCAA title team (1995)
  • Hobey Baker Finalist (1995)
  • Won the Gridiron Club of Boston's Walter Brown Award as the top American-born player in New England (1995)
  • 1,000 NHL games

LEGACY

Mike Grier: “I was very fortunate to be able to play 14 seasons in the NHL with some great players,” he said in a statement. “The memories and friendships that I have built during my time in the league will last a lifetime. I would like to thank my former teammates, family and fans for helping make my career so memorable for me.

Bruce McCurdy: Grier was the embodiment of a role player. A 3 RW who could be expected to play 12 minutes a night at even strength, and another 3 on the PK, with very few "cherry minutes" to be found. He always seemed to draw the toughs, whether lined up on Murray's starboard side or, later, Marchant's. Over time the MGM line of Marchant between Grier and Moreau became something of a constant, a classic "checking line" in the old-fashioned sense, while Marchant and Grier were the first-team forwards on an Oilers' PK unit.

Mike Grier had character and drive in abundance, but he was also a skilled player and an effective one: big players could watch Grier's game tape and find very few examples of a bad penalty or a foolish hit that was outside the rules. Big hitter? Hell yes. Dirty player? Not by a mile.

Mike Grier went about his business doing everything he could to help his team win, and he was effective. A fine career from a fine man.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 26 2013, 07:51AM
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Mike Grier!

Wow, I loved this player.

Those teams in the mid 90s to early 00s always seemed to find depth.

How many shoulder surgeries did Grier pass up? How much longer would his career have been and how many more goals might he have potted if his shoulder was in order?

we can only dream.

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#2 kgo
April 26 2013, 07:53AM
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Rosie was a Beaut! Had the sickest big hockey butt too boot.

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#3 vetinari
April 26 2013, 07:57AM
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Grier was a tank with a huge heart... if we could just clone him....

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#4 HugThePost
April 26 2013, 07:58AM
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Thinking of players like this makes me misty and wonder where the current oilers would be if they had one or two players with the grit and drive Rosey had in one of his pinky fingers. Or if Kruger could motivate like Ron Lowe.

I love these strolls down memory lane, LT. Thanks.

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#5 bleed_oil
April 26 2013, 08:16AM
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Man Rosey Greer had heart. This article takes me right back to those late 90's Oilers teams. What a bunch of warriors Slats put together. Total opposite of todays team... good times.

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#6 John Chambers
April 26 2013, 09:05AM
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1998 Round 1 - Game 5 in Denver

Tied late in the 3rd period, Grier out-hustles the Avs D to negate an icing, the puck bounces in front of the net and the rubber ends up behind Patrick Roy. The Oil win the next one at home 2-0, then spank Colorado in game 7 for the upset.

It doesn't happen without a blood and guts play from 25.

That was a fine time to be an Oilers fan.

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#7 Rama Lama
April 26 2013, 09:11AM
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Now that should remind Lowe of what a shut down line should look like! Big , aggressive, and could score on you making simple plays that worked. Moreau, Marchant, and Grier were " beauties", as DC would say!

Fast forward we have Smyth, Horcough, and anyone who Krueger feels needs to be demoted.

Time for a a total re-build, with Lowe a million miles away.

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#8 John Chambers
April 26 2013, 09:47AM
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John Chambers wrote:

1998 Round 1 - Game 5 in Denver

Tied late in the 3rd period, Grier out-hustles the Avs D to negate an icing, the puck bounces in front of the net and the rubber ends up behind Patrick Roy. The Oil win the next one at home 2-0, then spank Colorado in game 7 for the upset.

It doesn't happen without a blood and guts play from 25.

That was a fine time to be an Oilers fan.

Nice memory, John.

In fact you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oComo39m4NE

At 10:10 Grier scores the go-ahead goalin game 5, and the goal you cite is actually an empty-netter to make it 3-1 where he negates the icing.

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#9 Spydyr
April 26 2013, 09:56AM
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Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio A nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Changed to.Where have you gone, Mike Grier A Oilernation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Man ,this current Oiler team could use 7 Mike Griers.

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#10 Zamboni Driver
April 26 2013, 10:22AM
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Grier couldn't put it in the ocean standing on the beach.

But I'd take him over all but about 3 players on the current collection of nobodies and pansies.

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#11 oiler_head
April 26 2013, 10:28AM
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Here is great article that I found on Grier:

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/editorspick_mobile/x930817484/Hollistons-Grier-provides-the-assist?zc_p=0

I know that there is a backlash against the "old boys club", but if the Oilers insist on alumni, we would do well to place Grier in player development, pro scouting or in a coaching role on the farm.

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#12 The Soup Fascist
April 26 2013, 10:41AM
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I was at Game #3 in 1997 vs. Dallas. Dallas had the Oilers smothered for about 54 minutes and were up 3-0 and the game was terrible. Actually thought about leaving early along with the 3 or 4 thousand others who were "smart" enough to beat the traffic since I was living in Lloydminster at the time - but decided to ride it out.

In the last 5 minutes or so, Weight, Kovey and Grier each scored to send the Game to OT, before Bucky sniped one in the extra session.

I remember Bucky scoring in front of a less than capacity crowd, as people tried to return to the rink once they found out that the game went to OT.

It went from one of the worst playoff games I could remember to one of the best in about five minutes. Grier was a big part of the comeback and the team.

Man, I miss playoff hockey.

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#13 Minister D-
April 26 2013, 11:24AM
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Grier reminds of a time when it was actually enjoyable to watch Oilers hockey. The regular season records of those late-90s teams weren't spectacular, usually under .500, but man they were the little team that could, the true cardiac kids. What they lacked in top-end skill beyond Weight and Guerin (Weight was an absolute beauty) they made up for by bringing in guys with loads of character, tough and efficient role players like Grier, Marchant, Murray (even pickups like Hrkac proved useful come playoff time), along with a few that were capable of playing gritty while putting up points (Smyth, Mironov, Hamrlik).

Screw Lucic. We need a Mike Grier-type.

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#14 dessert1111
April 26 2013, 11:55AM
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One of my favourites. Thanks, LT.

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#15 Rob...
April 26 2013, 11:56AM
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I always envisioned Mike Grier as Martin Riggs from the Lethal Weapon franchise. I don't think it ever happened quite like this, but I pictured him popping out his shoulder at the most inopportune times. Then ramming himself against the boards to pop it back in to place so he could get back into the play, involuntarily screaming in pain knowing that the pain was necessary because giving up wasn't even an option.

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#16 Jasmine
April 26 2013, 12:07PM
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@Rama Lama

Too bad players won't sign in Edmonton because of the fans.

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#17 Rob...
April 26 2013, 12:09PM
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@Jasmine

What's too bad is that the fans have a hate on for players who don't play their heart out and yet we still attract players who like to dog it.

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#18 Dog Train
April 26 2013, 12:19PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Too bad players won't sign in Edmonton because of the fans.

Players don't not sign here because of the fans. They don't sign here because the team sucks.

We could use a Mike Grier type or 2 on this current roster. That checking line is a dream compared to the half-assed blend that we've been throwing out on our 3rd lines the past few seasons.

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#19 @Oilanderp
April 26 2013, 12:40PM
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He could teach today’s young players how to body-check, rather than throw themselves at a player. You skate through them. If you were ever in Grier’s train tracks, you were history. “After we beat Colorado (1998), one of their trainers told me their players were scared silly of Mike,” said former Oilers’ trainer Ken Lowe.

Wait wait ... I was told that hitting has no correlation to winning!?! 'Only goals matter.' Jeebus I wish we had a Mike Grier now.

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#20 Matt Henderson
April 26 2013, 01:33PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Too bad players won't sign in Edmonton because of the fans.

This is the most asinine thing I bother to keep reading from you.

The fans? Fans that fill seats no matter how bad the team is? Fans who spend their free time thinking about them? Fans who show up in Road games? Fans who treat them like gods when they're out on the town?

That's why Free Agents dont want to sign here? Like maybe if we all just stop caring Free Agents around the NHL will take notice and collectively say "Hey, they still lose all the time but I could walk down the streets naked and no one would recognize me...So I'm in!!!"

Troll

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#21 The Soup Fascist
April 26 2013, 01:42PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Too bad players won't sign in Edmonton because of the fans.

"Please discontinue the beatings"

Sincerely, Barbaro.

Honestly "Jasmine", time for a new schtick.

P.S. C'mon, Lowetide. You couldn't have slipped in a smokin' PAM Grier picture from like 30 years ago, under the guise of a "What it Means..."? Color me disappointed.

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#22 Pucker - B class
April 26 2013, 01:46PM
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I remember the Oilers were chuggling along, fighting for a playoff spot. Doing okay. Grier got hurt for a few games. I think it was his elbow.

The Oilers went into the tank while he was gone. As much as I enjoyed watching his body checking and forechecking, I didn't realize how important he was till then.

Glad I didn't have to play against him.

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#23 druds
April 26 2013, 02:07PM
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Damn I miss Mike Keenan...he made the stoopidest deals in history purely out of spite...We would have no problems retooling this team if he was still coaching St.Louis.

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#24 justthestatsman
April 26 2013, 11:10PM
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I get misty eyed thinking about Mike Grier. What we could do with someone like him on our current roster.

First time I saw him was at a World Junior Game in Camrose in 1995. USA vs. Ukraine. I went to watch Oilers first round pick Jason Bonsignore. Can't remember how Bonsignore did, but I sure noticed Grier. I couldn't believe a guy that big could skate so fast. He seemed about half again as big as anyone else on the ice. It looked like his jersey only came up to his elbows.

USA badly outplayed Ukraine but ran into a hot goalie and a hotshot sniper and lost 3-2. It was the only game Ukraine won and since it was just a round robin in those days I think it knocked USA out of the medal race.

Thanks for the memories, LT.

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#25 NewAgeSys
April 27 2013, 04:18PM
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Nice touch to make it clear how clean Griers hits generally were, he really hammered guys because of that type of play, he gave himself permission to crush men because he always kept it clean. He was huge and angled guys down from his own zone like a greyhound zones on a rabbit,he targeted opponents and steamrolled them no matter where on the ice they were,he took the shortest path wherever he went, which was usually through guys. And he had an insane tolerance for pain.

It was weird back then because bigger talented guys like Grier werent that hard to find, it must have been a niche in league evolution. Today you just cant find guys that big and talented and willing, again I think of Ethan Moreau,dammit we need a clone of him.

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#26 Quicksilver ballet
April 28 2013, 11:20AM
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That pain you feel when the ball is forced out of the socket in your shoulder, has to be comparible to a woman giving birth to a baby. It's a pain you'll never forget. Can't remember how many times Rosey slipped behind the Oilers bench to have his shoulder popped back in place.

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