WATERVILLE — Three-thousand miles away, his father sits high above the rink as he plans the next moves for a billion-dollar franchise. Here, Jayden Grier is the one in the arena — albeit on the ice rather than in a box suite.

For years, Grier moved around the country as his father, Mike, bounced from franchise to franchise as an NHL player. Now, as his dad serves as general manager for the NHL’s San José Sharks, Grier is the one in the midst of his hockey playing days as a member of the Colby College men’s team.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Grier, a freshman. “My dad is a big inspiration to me. He was already six or seven years into his career when I was born, and even though I was still young when he retired, it was fun to watch. Now, he’s out there in a front-office role, and I’m playing in college.”

Over the years, the Grier family has firmly entrenched itself in the scouting, personnel and transactional aspects of professional sports. Jayden could be next — but first, he has his sights set on thriving at Colby, where he’s found himself at home as a college hockey player.

Mike Grier, who in 2022 became the first Black general manager in NHL history, had a successful 15-year career in the league for the Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres. Before that, he played at Boston University, where the Terriers had some thrilling battles with the University of Maine in the 1990s.

It would be no surprise, then, for Jayden himself to pick up hockey, and pick it up he did as he went on to play for one of the nation’s top prep programs, St. Sebastian’s (Needham, Mass.). He spent last year playing for the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks before ultimately deciding on Colby.


“Colby was the first school to talk to me out of high school, and they approached me and made it clear they were really interested, so I came up here for a visit,” Grier said. “When I decided I was ready to go DIII and go to school, it always appealed. The rink is unbelievable, and I knew (head coach) Blaise (MacDonald). It’s been awesome here so far.”

Colby College freshman Jayden Grier takes a shot on net during practice Jan. 25 in Waterville. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Indeed, Grier did know MacDonald, who had also been influential in bringing his father to BU. MacDonald, an associate head coach for the Terriers from 1990-96, was the lead recruiter for Mike Grier, who would become one of the top players on a BU team that claimed the national championship in 1994-95.

“When you coach for a while, you see that next generation of the guys you used to coach, and that’s a really cool thing,” MacDonald said. “As a hockey player, what stands out about (Jayden) is his size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), but he’s also a great skater, he’s got great breakaway speed, and he’s got a great shot. I think he’s got a lot of amazing hockey ahead of him, and this is just the beginning.”

Even as a freshman who’s battled a shoulder injury throughout the season, Grier has seen plenty of time on the ice for Colby (6-9-3). He scored his first collegiate goal Nov. 18 in a 4-2 win over Williams before scoring twice Nov. 26 in a 6-3 victory over Suffolk. He also had an assist against nationally ranked UNE earlier this month.

When Jayden travels to the Bay Area to see his family, he spends a chunk of his time around the Sharks front office. The younger Grier has developed a passion for hockey analytics and has spent hours learning from Charlie Townsend, the franchise’s analytics director, and A.J. Bernstein, an analyst.

“He’s interested in a lot of the front-office stuff, especially analytics, scouting and so forth,” Mike Grier said. “He enjoys being around, and those guys have been good to him and have helped him get his feet wet. I’m not sure he knows what path he really wants to go down just yet, but I think he’s intrigued with that.”


Mike Grier of the San Jose Sharks poses for his headshot for the 2022-2023 season on September 21, 2022 at the TechCU Arena in San Jose, California. NHLI via Getty Images

Mike and Jayden aren’t the only ones in the Grier family with impressive sports backgrounds. Chris Grier, Mike’s brother, is general manager of the Miami Dolphins, and their father, Bobby, worked as director of player personnel for the New England Patriots in the 1990s and as associate scouting director for the Houston Texans from 2000-12.

“For me, it was kind of following in the footsteps of what my dad and brother were able to do in football,” Mike Grier said. “(Being the first Black NHL GM) is something I’m proud of, but there comes a little bit of responsibility with it as well to not just have the job but to do it well. Hopefully, I can do a good enough job where it opens some doors for other minorities down the road.”

His father breaking into a major front-office role wasn’t too surprising, Jayden Grier said, given that his dad always seemed to have more of a passion for scouting and analysis than on-ice coaching. That he had to break a barrier to do it, though, is not something Jayden takes for granted.

The racial realities of hockey, after all, can’t be ignored. It’s a surprise to Grier — something that “sticks out” — when he sees a Black player on an opposing team. He hopes his father’s role can inspire more diversity in a league that was only 3.74 percent Black (front-office roles included) as of 2022.

“My dad went through a lot more challenges with that than I have growing up because it was obviously a very different time, but he persevered because he loved the sport,” Grier said. “You want the game to keep growing and reach more people, and it’s been growing a lot, I think. It’ll take a while, but I believe it’ll get there.”

Grier hopes to work in hockey someday after his playing career is done, but with three full years left after this one, that time has not yet come. If there’s one regret the 20-year-old has, it’s that he failed to bring home a title with the great prep team he had at St. Sebastian’s. At Colby, he wants to leave that legacy.

“I’ve had a good start to the year, and I want to just keep pushing and keep getting better,” Grier said. “I obviously want this team to be remembered — I want to help put banners up here. Hopefully, we can do that here and win something that we’re remembered for.”

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