forward Michael Grier
will celebrate playing in his 1,000th NHL game Wednesday against the Boston Bruins
It's a special milestone for a hockey player that takes on even more significance once you consider Grier will be the first U.S.-born and -trained black player to reach the mark.
"It's been a heck of a career. To play the number of games he's played, it's pretty special," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff
told the team's website. "He's had a role that has fit his game and he's been a good leader inside dressing rooms and he's a good person and I think that's made him very effective."
Grier, a ninth-round pick by St. Louis in the 1993 Entry Draft, broke into the NHL with Edmonton during the 1996-97 season and also has played for Washington and San Jose during his career. He has 157 goals, 370 points and 500 penalty minutes in the regular season, along with 14 goals, 27 points and 72 penalty minutes in 94 postseason games.
"It goes by quick," Grier told the Sabres' Website. "The years all kind of blend together and you've got to enjoy it while you can."
Grier was born in Detroit and played his high school hockey at St. Sebastian's in Massachusetts before going on to a collegiate career at Boston University. Grier has represented the United States at both the World Junior Championship and the World Championship.
and Donald Brashear
are the other black players to have reached 1,000 games in their careers -- Brashear was born in Bedford, Ind., but grew up in Quebec, where he learned to play hockey.
Grier reached career highs of 20 goals and 44 points with the Oilers in his third season in the League, but the secret to his longevity has in large part been his defensive play. In fact, Grier has more career shorthanded goals (20) than power-play goals (16), evidence as to his value as a defensive forward.
"My first few years in the League I was a little bit more of an offensive guy, a power-play guy, working the front of the net," he said. "As I've gone along I've had to kind of take a little bit more of a defensive role, be on the checking line and be responsible defensively and kill penalties."