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.
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.
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
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.