Mike Grier retires after 14 seasons

Forward Mike Grier, who played for the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks during 14 seasons, announced his retirement Thursday.

Grier, 36, last played in 2010-11 after signing a one-year deal with the Sabres in his third stint with the team.

He finished with 162 goals and 221 assists in 1,060 regular-season games.

"I was very fortunate to be able to play 14 seasons in the NHL with some great players," Grier said in a statement released by the NHL Players' Association. "The memories and friendships that I have built during my time in the league will last a lifetime. I would like to thank my former teammates, family and fans for helping make my career so memorable for me. It was a great ride, and I am now excited and looking forward to my post-playing future."

Born in Detroit and raised in Boston, Grier was a ninth-round draft pick of St. Louis in 1993, and is one of the first black NHL players to have been born, raised and trained in the United States. However, he comes from a football-oriented family. His father, Bobby, is associate director of pro personnel for the Houston Texans, and his brother, Chris, is director of college scouting for the Miami Dolphins.

His rights were traded to the Oilers while he played at Boston University, where he was part of the 1994-95 NCAA national championship team. That same season, he also was a Hobey Baker Award finalist.

"If there was one word to describe Mike, it was professional ... One of the nicest guys that ever came through Edmonton," former Oilers head of scouting Kevin Prendergast told the Edmonton Journal. "He knew what he had to work on and he did. If he had to be mean, he was mean. His game wasn't pretty, but he did everything with class."

At 6-foot-1, 224 pounds, he was a physical force and a feared hitter, but he logged only 510 career penalty minutes.

Grier was a valuable defensive specialist and behind-the-scenes leader in helping a young Sabres team win a franchise-record 52 regular-season games in 2005-06 and clinch the team's first playoff berth since 2001.

He signed with the Sharks as a free agent in July 2006 and played there for three seasons. Torrey Mitchell, a rookie in 2007-08, credited Grier with helping him mature and learn the importance of killing penalties.

"He had a really good influence on me. He was such a professional," Mitchell told the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday. "When I came in here, just watching him taught me how to adjust -- especially coming out of college where you only play 30 to 35 games. He was kind of a calming figure for me around the locker room."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.