Each month, Rink Report will have an exclusive Q&A session with a Sharks player that can only be found here. This month, we chat with Sharks heart-and-soul forward Mike Grier.
Starting next month, the Sharks will answer YOUR questions. E-mail your questions for Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
and they will appear in the August edition.
RR: Looking back at your first season with the San Jose Sharks, what was most memorable for you?
|Mike Grier |
MG: “Probably opening night. It was exciting, we had a sold-out building and it was the first game with the new team. To win it in overtime was pretty special.”
RR: It’s been just about a year since you made the transition to San Jose. How has that been for you and your family?
MG: “It’s been great. Everyone in the organization has been great and treated me well. We have a good group of guys and the fans are great as well. I would say everything went better than I expected. It was a pretty easy transition.”
RR: What sort of mentality do you carry out there on the ice, particularly on the penalty kill?
MG: “Basically, just to work as hard as I can and as smart as I can to do whatever we need to do get the job done, especially on the penalty kill. Penalty killing is trying to read the play the right way but also outwork the power play unit.”
RR: A lot of fans see you as an “unsung hero” from last season; a player that does a lot of the little things, but may not always be in the limelight. What do you think about that assessment?
MG: “That’s always a nice thing to hear but we have a lot of guys on this team who do little things that may not always get recognized. For someone like myself who’s not going to score 30 or 40 goals, doing the little things is how you’re going to survive in this League.”
RR: You had a solid season last year registering 16 goals and 33 points. As a player known primarily for his excellent defense, would you rather score a goal in a game or kill a five-on-three penalty?
MG: “It depends on what the score is! Both can be pretty rewarding situations, depending on what’s going on. If you’re able to go out there and kill off a five-on-three, it’s always a big boost to your team. It’s a situation where most times, the other team is expecting to have success in that spot so if you can get the job done, it’s a huge momentum change.”
RR: You’re definitely a player that likes to mix it up on the ice with the opposition. How hard is it for you to know when to make a big hit or get into a scrap in order to help your team?
MG: “Stuff like that is all just feel for how the game is going. Some nights maybe your team needs a lift or there’s a lull in the game, you just have to go by feel. Maybe there is something you can do to get your team going or change the momentum a bit.”
RR: The NHL Draft just recently came and went. What do you remember about your draft weekend in 1993?
MG: “There were five kids off of my high school team who were projected to get drafted and that’s pretty rare for a U.S. high school. We all made the road trip to Quebec (Montreal) and had some fun. I didn’t get drafted until late so it was some long days but to be there with my friends and celebrate with them was a good feeling.”
RR: Sometimes, those long days don’t end well for players in attendance if they don’t end up being selected. Did you start to get worried at any point you wouldn’t be drafted?
MG: “It wasn’t too nerve wracking. I think I was rated in the fourth round and I ended up going in the ninth round so there was no guarantee I was going to get picked. I was there with my friends having a good time. We just enjoyed being in the atmosphere, hoping that we were going to get the chance to play in the NHL.”
RR: As one of the veterans on a talented Sharks club that ranks amongst the youngest in the League, what sort of advice do you give to some of the younger guys?
MG: “For me, a lot of it is by example and the way that I play on the ice. You try to remind guys of the situation they’re in and to try and take advantage of it. It’s a privilege to be in the NHL and you have to go out and work hard every day. It’s fun but it’s your job and you have to look at it that way – try to get better every time you’re out there.”
RR: Who was your favorite player growing up and why?
MG: Mark Messier and Cam Neely. Being from Boston, Cam Neely was the guy if you were a forward. He was big and he played physical. He’s someone I tried to emulate. And Mark Messier and those Oilers teams were fun to watch. He was a physical player who could dominate a game.”
RR: Did you always know that you wanted to play hockey as a kid or did you try out other sports as well?
MG: “I played everything growing up. With my family in football, I thought maybe I would play football but hockey was something I was having a lot of fun with and was successful. Playing professional was always a goal of mine but I wasn’t sure where I would end up.”
RR: What is your favorite NHL arena to play in and why?
MG: Probably Madison Square Garden. There is so much history there and it’s one of the last older buildings. It’s always a big deal going to New York City and you’re right in the middle of it all. It’s pretty cool.”
RR: You played six years with the Edmonton Oilers. What are the major differences playing for a Canadian team versus an American based team like San Jose?
MG: “Playing in Canada, it’s hockey all the time. No matter what you do, good or bad, it’s in the papers or on TV. You really have to learn to block things out and not read or listen to that stuff too much. Playing in the States, there’s pressure on the ice but you’re able to go about your business away from the rink.”
RR: Who have been some of your favorite players to play with over the years? Against?
MG: “Being able to play against players who are Hall-of-Famers or among the best at their positions like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux and Ray Bourque, it’s pretty cool. And I scored my first goal against Patrick Roy. I’ve made some good friends over the years too. I played in college with Chris Drury and then was able to play with him professionally so that was cool. Ethan Moreau is a great guy, one of my good friends. I learned a lot from Dougie Weight when I was in Edmonton. That’s just a few.”