The hiring is a significant milestone for the N.H.L., where Black players make up a small minority of the league’s rosters and occupy few front-office posts.
Grier said he hoped his appointment would create opportunities for others.
“Since my playing days, the league itself has gotten more and more diverse, and that’s something I’m happy to see,” he said. “My job is to do the best I can for the San Jose organization, and if I do that, hopefully it opens the door to other minorities to get in front-office positions.”
When Grier entered the league with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1996-97 season, he was reported to be the first African American player born and developed in the United States to play in the N.H.L. The Florida-born Val James, who entered the league in 1981, and Donald Brashear, who was born in Indiana and debuted in the N.H.L. in 1993, both played junior hockey in Canada.
Grier, who was 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds in his playing days, played prep school hockey at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Mass., and was selected in the ninth round of the 1993 draft, 219th overall, by the St. Louis Blues. That fall, just as Brashear was playing his first games for the Montreal Canadiens, Grier arrived at Boston University as a walk-on.