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At Random: Coach Grier

It’s absolutely no surprise that former Edmonton Oilers’ winger Mike Grier landed a job as a coach in the NHL, joining the New Jersey Devils as an assistant this week. If anything, the surprise is it took the big winger from Detroit this long to end up behind the bench after retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Oilers’ fans will remember Grier, who played six seasons here in Edmonton, as a burly, third-line forward who chugged up and down the right wing like a locomotive, running over everything in his way — most notably on a terrific line with Todd Marchant and either Rem Murray or Ethan Moreau. And, of course, for playing through countless shoulder dislocations. Tough dude.

More than that, Grier, who is now 43, was a smart dude and a consummate pro who studied the game, defined exactly what it was he needed to do and made sure he was prepared to do it, to stay in the NHL – something he did for 1,060 regular season games with the Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks. Simply put, Grier was one of those mid-roster players who had all the attributes it takes to become a successful coach.

STUDENT OF THE GAME

Grier could play. Aside from being a hellacious body-checker, penalty killer and a 200-foot player before the term even came into vogue, Grier had pretty good mitts for a banger. He scored 20 goals twice for the Oilers and scored 10-20 goals seven times in 14 seasons, so it’s not like he was a journeyman. He also did what a lot of former players who end up behind the bench tend to do – he paid attention and never cut corners on preparation.

Grier joins John Hynes’ staff in New Jersey after spending four seasons as a pro scout with the Chicago Blackhawks. Grier also coached with St. Sebastian’s High School, where he played in 1992-93, and with the BU Junior Terriers. “He was a highly-respected teammate and had the ability to relate to all players with his personality, demeanor and experience,” Hynes said. “These attributes will be valuable in communicating and developing our players, as we continue to build a strong culture.”

Grier joins a sizeable fraternity of former Oilers who are coaching around the NHL. Todd Reirden, who had a 17-game cup of coffee with the Oilers in 1998-99, took over from Barry Trotz as head coach with the Capitals this off-season. Martin Gelinas (Calgary), Steve Smith (Buffalo), Charlie Huddy (Winnipeg) and Luke Richardson (Montreal) are assistants. Dwayne Roloson (Anaheim), Bob Essensa (Boston) and Bill Ranford (L.A.) are goaltending coaches. Grier’s former linemate, Marchant, has been director of player development in Anaheim since 2011.

RADIO GA-GA

When you own the team you call the shots, but that doesn’t make the news today that Carolina’s Hurricanes’ radio play-by-play man Chuck Kaiton is out of a job after 39 years behind the microphone easier to take. Kaiton, the radio voice of the team dating back to 1979 with the Hartford Whalers, declined a low-ball offer, a salary cut, from the team, now owned by Texas billionaire Tom Dundon.

Kaiton, 66, who never missed a game in 39 years, and the radio broadcast will likely be replaced by the feed of a TV simulcast next season as Dundon puts in place efficiencies to improve the bottom line. “Radio is not a prudent financial decision,” GM Don Waddell told The Raleigh News & Observer in May. “It’s important, I think, to have it for the people that still want to listen to it, but it’s something from a business standpoint that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Carolina joins Dallas and Buffalo as teams running TV simulcasts on radio. Aside from Kaiton being a terrific guy and a member of the broadcasters wing of the HHOF (he was inducted in 2004), it’s a crappy trend — I wonder how many other teams might follow suit in coming years to cut costs and pad the bottom line? There are far too many people who are really good at what they do losing jobs as the media landscape changes.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • oilredemption

    I always wondered why teams didn’t do the whole cross over from to tv to radio as one broadcast. I understand the reasoning why teams are going in that direction but…. as a oilers fan I love the options to have Bob and Jack. Great insight and terrific play by play. I also love the radio show Bob hosts at noon. I think it’s a valuable to tool to gain interest in your team. To have the color guy routinely travel with the team, be at all the practises, meetings, announcements, etc. It allows alot of in depth knowledge of the team that the common fan does not know and shares a more emotional feel and real live updates. More teams should do this. I 100% feel as if Carolina had a “hurricane report” for 2 hours a day to it’s local fan would feel more involved. Talk about what’s happening with Skinner and Faulk. Talk about the direction they are going with trading Hamilton. Have their new coach on the show to say what

    • Glencontrolurstik

      I agree, ‘Id much rather listen to the always more exciting radio NHL call. Not matter which city I am in it’s always more exciting. I used to often turn off the TV sound & listen to Curt Kielbach when I lived in Winnipeg, he was a good one. It never lines up any more? I remember vividly, fishing at Lake Eden after work, as I often would, listening to Bryan Hall calling a Wings Oilers game as I was waiting patiently for the trout to bite. I mostly remember how vividly & exciting he called the fights. That night it was Probert/Semenko… He was awesome. I would like to give 630 a thumbs up for Jack Michaels & Bob Stauffer as well. They seem to have carried on the same flavour in the radio dept. I love sports on radio, namely hockey & I certainly hope it doesn’t come to an end. I live in BC now & don’t get all the Oiler Games on TV. I never miss a game though & am glad to have 630 CHED. Thanks so much Edmonton…

  • ubermiguel

    Loved Rosie as a player, I never saw him take a game off and he could do a bit of everything (fight, score, check, defend, etc.). He should be a very good coach. Only a couple of hundred guys have played 1060 games, that tells you the coaches could count on him (and he stayed healthy).

  • Gravis82

    Tv broadcasting doesn’t work on radio, unless you are the bob cole type who actually calls the play by play rather than going off on conversational tangents on a whim. Unfortunately that’s how everyone calls it now.

    I dislike tv broadcasts in general, much prefer radio.

  • chezzychez

    Grier was the man! Part of that not-so skilled, hard-nosed, grinder of a team that squeaked in to playoffs year after year in the 90’s. That team taught me a ton growing up. Not so sure kids are getting the same kind of blue collar education over the last 12 years of oil hockey….

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Nation – You have been warned.

    When I have a net worth in the billions and I buy the Oilers my OBC will include the likes of the boys from the mid-to-late 90s.

    Weight, Guerin, Luke, Billy the Kid, and now maybe Rosie.

    Sorry 80s OBC…your time was over in 2008.

  • SylarHRG

    A team like Carolina kind of makes sense that they need to cut corners. I’m not saying it’s right how they did it for Chuck, but it does make sense from a business standpoint. Especially their business. I listen to Oiler radio network all the time (I work shift work and don’t live in Edmonton, satellite radio is my friend) but how many people in Carolina are truly tuning in to listen to this team? How many fans do they have outside of Carolina?

    • Glencontrolurstik

      At least one here in Pemberton, B.C… My Buddy named his dogs Charlotte & Delilah… so you know where he’s from?
      I only think he started to watch hockey after he moved to Canada. He said that hockey was too fast to comprehend for most Americans who were raised thinking that Sports were always slow & easy to follow. It looked exciting to him, but until he could follow & know the rules it was just “movement on the TV with the announcers yelling all the time.”

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Good for Grier! I’ll never forget the scream he let out popping his shoulder out trying to go for a check along the boards. Could hear it everywhere. Then he comes back a few shifts later.

    If the Oilers do the simulcast, I’d hope they don’t let Remeda anywhere near the microphone.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Can’t remember how fast Grier was caught speeding on the Whitemud during his time here, but it was quite a ticket. Every time I hear his name I wonder about that … and how fast he’d drive if he was let loose on the now-completed Anthony Henday.