LOS ANGELES – A.J. Greer made a promise.

To himself.

And more importantly, his parents.

When the gritty forward chose to leave college, forego a $250,000 scholarship and go all-in on hockey in his home province, he knew the significance of what he was leaving behind.

But now, nearly a decade later, he’s putting the finishing touches on one of his greatest life achievements.

“I'm doing my last class as we speak, and I'm going to walk the stage on May 18 in Boston and be at the BU graduation ceremony,” Greer said, flashing the biggest of smiles. “I'm really proud of myself and the accomplishment, and I couldn't be more excited.”

Deep down, Greer knew that he would someday return to the study hall – online, or otherwise.

He just didn’t know when.

But when the world changed in March of 2020, with the NHL season on pause, opportunity knocked.

“I started taking my classes the first week of COVID,” Greer said. “When it first, first, first started – first wave, everything.

“I had about two years and a bit finished at school at the time I left. When COVID started, we were at home the first week and I was brainstorming what I could do, like everyone did during that time. So, I actually gave Boston University a call and was like, 'Hey, is there a possibility for me keep my classes going with online programs?' I was skeptical at what they were going to say, because remember – I left on my own terms and made the decision to pursue my hockey career in the Q.

“I had that full scholarship, but I really didn't think they would honour it.

“But they were really supportive, really welcoming and they said, 'Yeah, no problem. We'll go one for one.' So, I took one class every semester – seven weeks at a time – and here we are.

“It was about 20-something classes that I did during the hockey season, summer and everything. I kept it going all this time and now I'm in my last one.

“It's an incredible feeling.”


The first-year Flame has a career-high six goals and 12 points in 58 games this year

Greer is the curious type – a philomath who pushes himself daily to not only exercise the brain, but also acquire a range of different life experiences in the process.

It’s why the 27-year-old self-described “beatmaker” has taken such an interest in music production over the past few years.

It’s why he reads a great deal.

And it’s also why, one day, he’ll seek to start up a business, become his own boss and even “create an empire.”

“I really do,” Greer adds with conviction.

His last class – Native American History – will officially cap a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, making him the first member of his family to earn a university degree. He says so with such pride, understanding the sacrifices both he and his family have all made to provide him with all the supports and different opportunities along the way.

“It's more of a general degree and something that encapsulates a little bit of everything, but mainly allows you to choose a major after as a post-graduate,” Greer says of his future in the classroom. “If I wanted to take business, for example, I could do that or take it any direction I really wanted to.

“It’s given me a path – both now and in the future.”

But even with the ‘finish line’ in sight, Greer is immersing himself in all his advanced education has to offer.

“I’ve enjoyed every single class,” he said. “They’ve both challenging and eye-opening, and I love that.

“Native American History is such a cool class, because being in Calgary, there's so much history with our Indigenous communities and we acknowledge them and support reconciliation with the video before every game. It's been cool to learn about that, both in Canada and the U.S. and expand my knowledge on that part of our country’s past.”


Certainly, Greer still has plenty of good years left on the ice and his goal of winning the Stanley Cup remains a top priority.

He acknowledges, though, that far too many players are ill-prepared for navigating life beyond hockey. So, for him, it’s about setting a foundation that will hopefully come with a smoother transition when the time comes.

But ultimately, Greer is a goal-setter with an insatiable appetite to envelope himself in life’s pleasures.

Whether it’s now, or 10, 15 years down the road, that part of him will never change.

“Wherever life takes you, let it,” Greer said. “I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish. Many are short-term. I try not to think too much into the future, because things change all the time.

“Yes, this allows me to start to think about my post-playing career and helps me check one thing off my list. But next in the short-term, I want to learn Spanish. I think being trilingual would be even more useful with some of the things I want to do in my life.

“I have a lot of big ambitions. I've been reading a lot of books about starting a business from the ground up, so I'm absorbing as much of that as I can right now, too.

“When my son gets a little older, I want to learn the piano with him. That's something I’ve thought about from the moment Jackson was born.

“Just learn.

“I want to learn all about this world, this life.”

Greer laughs when reminded of how crazy this past year has been. From marrying the love of his life, Taylor, last summer, to being plucked off waivers, to the birth of his son in February, to rehabbing a tough injury, hitting the books and helping the Flames down the stretch, he’s done just about everything a hockey player can do over the course of a season.

There isn’t one player on the Flames roster happy about missing out on the spring dance.

But if you can draw one positive, look no further than Greer, who will be able to attend his graduation in person, with Taylor, Jackson, and his parents, Josée and Wayne, all on hand to celebrate next month in Beantown.

This is, after all, for them.

As much as it is for A.J.

“100%,” he says. “My parents have worked so hard to put me in situations where I can succeed. To be able to have a full scholarship and go to a great school like Boston University is an unbelievable dream that I had when I became a teenager and began to understand what routes I could take to make it to the NHL.

“Education has always been a focus in my life and in my family's life. So, when I did decide to leave college, it was with mixed emotions from my parents, because they do want to support me and they understood where I was coming from – but they were skeptical about leaving a full scholarship.

“But they were supportive. And dreams like the ones I had aren’t possible without that.

“I’m very lucky and very proud.”