Grier, Salvador Coaching in Prestigious Tournament

Devils Assistant Coach Mike Grier and Devils/MSG+ TV analyst Bryce Salvador will be taking a team made up of minority players to a prestigious tournament according to William Douglas on

Grier and Salvador, both former NHL players – with Salvador serving as Devils captain (the third black player to serve as an NHL captain in league history) from 2013 until his retirement – will be coaching “the NextGen AAA Foundation’s team at the invitation-only Beantown Summer Classic in Exeter, New Hampshire from Aug. 8-11” according to Douglas in his “Color of Hockey” article on August 4.

The team, which is a part of the NextGen Foundation, a nonprofit “that provides mentoring, education and hockey programs to underprivileged youth and underserved communities. It was founded in 2017 by philanthropist Dee Dee Ricks, who has provided more than $1 million to help Black and brown student-athletes at some of the nation’s leading preparatory schools, colleges and travel hockey programs throughout North America.”

The team was “recruited by Rod Braceful, the assistant director of player personnel for USA Hockey’s National Development Team” according to Douglas.

The team will feature some great talent, as forward Reggie Millette will be attending American International College in 2021-22, defenseman Christian Jimenez will suit up for Harvard in the same season and forward Ross Mitton will play at Colgate this upcoming season.

Grier said: “I’m extremely happy and grateful to work with this group of talented players. The game of hockey continues to increase the number of diverse players with the talent and skill to compete in college, in the minors, and the NHL, and supporting organizations like NextGen, who develop those pathways, is vital.”

The NextGen AAA Foundation team competing in the Beantown Summer Classic comes on the heels of Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild making a great appeal to the entire sport of hockey in an effort to end racism in the opening to the Stanley Cup Qualifying round in Edmonton on Saturday. Dumba’s speech has been widely applauded and his message of inclusion in the sport is something that has to be listened to if we are to move forward. It was a great message and shows that the face of hockey is not one color or gender, but rather a mix of many different faces.

NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs, Kim Davis told Douglas: “NextGen is carving out a pipeline of diverse, elite-level hockey talent. We believe that in the near future, more teams across the continent will feature more players of color, and this NextGen team is a strong signal that we are moving closer to that day.”

The Beantown Summer Classic takes place in Exeter, New Hampshire from August 8 to 11, 2020 and will be sponsored by the NHL and Pure Hockey.

In other (power outage-backed up) news, the Devils have initiated a program to benefit Newark Working Kitchens.

The team, in partnership with Prudential Center and sponsors Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health, have announced Donate a Plate. This is “a virtual fundraiser benefitting Newark Working Kitchens.” This will enlist “local restaurants to deliver nutritious meals to vulnerable populations across Newark, including low-income seniors and families, the homeless, and others.”

Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health are kicking things off by donating 500 meals each to the initiative. The Devils and “their Premium Seating Partners” have matched that with 1,000 meals. All totaled, that comes to 2,000 meals for those in need.

The press release put out by the Devils says that “fans have a chance to participate in the giving by creating their own donation pages to share with family and friends. At the conclusion of the month-long fundraiser, the top three donors will receive a future Devils Premium Seating Experience at Prudential Center.”

Jillian Frechette, Senior Vice President, Marketing, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center said: “We are grateful to Investors Bank and RWJBarnabas Health for joining us in our mission to support Newark residents and the local restaurants which continue to provide meals during this time. On and off the ice, Newark is our home and our commitment to the community continues to be of the utmost importance. The goal of this virtual fundraiser is to motivate others to support those who are in need because together, with our community, we are one.”

Investors Bank Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Dorian Hansen said “We are thrilled to kick off the Donate a Plate virtual fundraiser alongside the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. Newark Working Kitchens is making an impact in a city that has been disproportionately hit by COVID-19 and we are proud to support them in their mission. This initiative is a meaningful way that fans can support those who are in need during this time.”

Barry H. Ostrowsky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health said “Our partnership with the New Jersey Devils is predicated on promoting the importance of healthy and active living, and proper nutrition is such a critical component. During this pandemic, the more vulnerable communities need our support more than ever, and I’m thrilled that through this program we have an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to those in need.”

The Devils had previously donated $200,000 to Newark Working Kitchens through their Devils Care Foundation.

If you would like to participate, the website to visit is:

Devils Name Two Assistant Coaches to Staff

The Devils named two to John Hynes’ coaching staff to replace Geoff Ward, who left to take a position on the staff of the Calgary Flames and Ryane Clowe, who took the head coach’s job with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL.

The new coaches are Rick Kowalsky, formerly head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Devils and former NHLer Mike Grier.

Kowalsky joins Hynes’ staff after more than a decade with the organization. The 46-year-old played for the Trenton Titans in 2005 (where he was captain) when he won a Kelly Cup in his final season as a pro hockey player. He had played in the ECHL for the Roanoke Express, the Hampton Roads Admirals and the Titans. He also spent some time in the AHL with the Cornwall Aces, Portland Pirates and Norfolk Admirals.

He was named to the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2017.

He began his coaching career in the ECHL as a player-assistant with the Express in 2001-02 and got his first head coaching gig with the Titans in 2006-07. He was promoted within the organization when he took over the Albany Devils in 2010-11 and moved with the team to Binghamton last season.

In 2009, while coaching the renamed Trenton Devils, he was named the John Brophy Award winner as ECHL coach of the year. He won the 2016 Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as AHL coach of the year in 2016 with Albany. Both those years, he coached his teams to the playoffs in their respective leagues.

His AHL coaching record, according to the Devils’ press release, was “281 wins, 249 losses and 82 overtime/shootout losses in 612 games.”

Kowalsky, a native of Simcoe, Ontario, played junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds where he won OHL championships in 1991 and 1992. He was captain of the Sault Ste. Marie team that won the Memorial Cup in 1993. He was the Sabres’ tenth pick, 227th overall in 1992, but never played in the NHL.

The other coach added to the Devils staff today was former NHLer Mike Grier. Grier played 1,060 games in the NHL over 14 seasons from 1996 to 2011. Playing for the Oilers, Capitals, Sabres and Sharks, he had 162 goals and 221 assists totaling 383 points along with 510 penalty minutes in his career. His best season came in 1998-99 with Edmonton when the right winger amassed 20 goals, 24 assists for 44 points. He played in 101 Stanley Cup Playoff games totaling 14 goals and 14 assists (28 points) and 72 PIMs. Although he never won the Stanley Cup, the press release notes that “(h)e made the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons” in the NHL.

He was drafted 219th overall in the ninth round of the 1993 NHL Draft by the Blues. Prior to being drafted, the 43-year-old Detroit native played at Boston University. He and Hynes were teammates on the Terriers in college. Grier was an NCAA East First All-Star Team member in 1994-95 and also won the Walter Brown Award that year “as New England’s top player.” That season Boston University also won the Hockey East and NCAA championships.

Grier never played a game in the minors, going straight from college to the NHL with the Oilers. He represented the USA at the 1995 World Juniors and the 2004 World Championship (where he won a bronze medal).

Prior to being hired by the Devils, Grier was a pro scout with the Blackhawks for the last four years and was an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, St. Sebastian’s High School in Needham, Massachusetts. He was also the coach of the Boston Junior Terriers.

On Kowalsky, John Hynes had this to say via the press release: “Rick will be a great addition to our team and this is well-deserved. He and I have had a strong relationship over the past three seasons and he’s done an excellent job in developing our young players. Rick is a high-energy, hard-working coach, great communicator and a tactician who has a great mind for the game.”

On Grier, Hynes said: “We are looking forward to having Mike join our organization. Having played 14 years and over 1,000 NHL games as a forward, Mike will lean on his experience in leadership roles to work with our players. He was a highly-respected teammate and had the ability to relate to all players with his personality, demeanor and experience. These attributes will be valuable in communicating and developing our players, as we continue to build a strong culture.”

Congratulations to both men on joining the NHL coaching ranks and good luck to them as the new season gets underway.