14

Top 10 Unsung Heroes: Mike Grier (5)

Mike Grier was never one of the top names on the marquee after he arrived with the Edmonton Oilers to start the 1996-97 season. The top of the heap during the 448 games over six seasons Grier spent here was inhabited by the likes of Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth, Curtis Joseph and Bill Guerin, to name just four. Those players, and others, were higher up the pecking order and in the line-up during Grier’s tenure, but there wasn’t a player more appreciated in the dressing room than the big right winger from Detroit.

In that regard, Grier, who arrived as something of as a throw-in as part of a trade with the St. Louis Blues that landed Joseph, wasn’t really an unsung hero in the dressing room — more on that later — as much as he was outside it with fans. They knew him as big hitter, a board-banging, glass-rattling third-liner who did his best work as a checker on a line that at various times included Todd Marchant, Ethan Moreau and Rem Murray. No matter whom he played with, Grier was an irresistible force barreling up and down the right wall like a runaway train headed off the rails.

Mike Grier

Right Wing
Born Jan 5th, 1975 — Detroit, MI
Height 6.01 — Weight 224 [185 cm/102 kg]

Drafted by St. Louis Blues

Round 9 #219 overall 1993 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

1996-97

22

EDM

79

15

17

32

7

45

89

16.9

1997-98

23

EDM

66

9

6

15

-3

73

90

10.0

1998-99

24

EDM

82

20

24

44

5

54

143

14.0

1308

15:57

1999-00

25

EDM

65

9

22

31

9

68

115

7.8

1024

15:45

2000-01

26

EDM

74

20

16

36

11

20

124

16.1

1239

16:44

2001-02

27

EDM

82

8

17

25

1

32

112

7.1

1232

15:01

2002-03

28

WSH

82

15

17

32

-14

36

133

11.3

1459

17:48

2003-04

29

TOT

82

9

20

29

-9

36

133

6.8

1430

17:26

2003-04

29

WSH

68

8

12

20

-19

32

115

7.0

1185

17:25

2003-04

29

BUF

14

1

8

9

10

4

18

5.6

245

17:29

2005-06

31

BUF

81

7

16

23

-7

28

109

6.4

1164

14:22

2006-07

32

SJS

81

16

17

33

-5

43

125

12.8

1332

16:26

2007-08

33

SJS

78

9

13

22

-8

24

132

6.8

1264

16:13

2008-09

34

SJS

62

10

13

23

8

25

108

9.3

930

15:00

2009-10

35

BUF

73

10

12

22

-4

14

123

8.1

1153

15:48

2010-11

36

BUF

73

5

11

16

0

12

107

4.7

1051

14:24

6 yrs EDM

448

81

102

183

30

292

673

12.0

4802

15:51

4 yrs BUF

241

23

47

70

-1

58

357

6.4

3612

14:59

3 yrs SJS

221

35

43

78

-5

92

365

9.6

3526

15:57

2 yrs WSH

150

23

29

52

-33

68

248

9.3

2644

17:38

Career

1060

162

221

383

-9

510

1643

9.9

14584

15:5

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

1996-97

22

EDM

12

3

1

4

-2

4

21

14.3

1997-98

23

EDM

12

2

2

4

4

13

14

14.3

1998-99

24

EDM

4

1

1

2

3

6

9

11.1

94

23:26

2000-01

26

EDM

6

0

0

0

-2

8

6

0.0

128

21:23

2002-03

28

WSH

6

1

1

2

0

2

10

10.0

108

17:59

2005-06

31

BUF

18

3

5

8

3

2

32

9.4

293

16:17

2006-07

32

SJS

11

2

2

4

1

27

31

6.5

190

17:16

2007-08

33

SJS

13

0

1

1

-2

2

22

0.0

199

15:20

2008-09

34

SJS

6

0

0

0

-2

6

8

0.0

63

10:33

2009-10

35

BUF

6

2

0

2

0

2

19

10.5

111

18:34

2010-11

36

BUF

7

0

1

1

-3

0

5

0.0

66

9:29

Career

101

14

14

28

0

72

177

7.9

1253

16:17

WHY HE MAKES IT

While I’m trying to keep from duplicating players in the series of lists that started with the Top 100 Oilers of all-time — Grier was No. 49 on that one — there’s just no way to keep him off this one. While players like Weight and Smyth would emerge as the leaders of the Oilers in the mid-1990s to 2000, the days when Edmonton seemed to run into the Dallas Stars every spring, it was also the lesser lights like Marchant and Grier who went about their business and helped to keep the payroll-strapped Oilers in contention against big budget outfits in the Western Conference.

Marchant, of course, had his moment in the spotlight with that breakaway goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Stars in the 1997 playoffs. Grier, meanwhile, never grabbed centre stage quite as dramatically. Up and down the wing he went, throwing that fire-hydrant body of his around — he was listed as six-foot-one and 224 pounds, which seemed about 20 pounds light to my eye — like a linebacker on skates. Grier scored 20 goals twice during his time with the Oilers, but was best known as a checker and penalty killer.

Well, that and the fact he had the pain threshold of a cadaver. As has been duly documented, Grier’s shoulder began making a habit of dislocating during the 2000-01 season. You’d hear him scream in pain out on the ice, struggle to the bench with his arm dangling like a spare part and then head down the tunnel with the medical crew. More times than not, he’d emerge during the same game with his shoulder popped back in and ready to go. He never made as big a deal of it as everybody else did.

THE FINE PRINT

I can’t think of a player who was held in higher regard by his teammates than Grier during the years I covered the team. An example of that came on the day Grier was traded to the Washington Capitals, Oct. 7, 2002. A quick team send-off was organized, as is tradition when there’s time to do so. The gathering was an indication of the esteem in which Grier as held by his teammates. Everybody hated to see him moved to Washington.

All told, Grier would play 1,060 games with the Oilers, Washington, Buffalo and San Jose. Every stop along the way featured the same trademarks — put in the work, put the team first and patrol that right wing like he owned it — but there’s not any question in my mind Grier enjoyed his best seasons with the Oilers. Grier was named the team’s Unsung Hero in a vote by fans in 1998-99 and Top Defensive Forward in 1999-2000.

This series of various Top 10 lists will focus on the post-1990 Oilers – the players who haven’t played on a Stanley Cup winner in Edmonton.

The List: