General Manager of the San Jose Sharks, Mike Grier, announced that the team has hired five different individuals to add to their hockey operations department, with a couple of notable names on the list. Jack Anderson has been hired as the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Jaren Burke as a Canadian scout, Igor Eronko as a Russian scout, as well as former player Thomas Vanek as an amateur scout, and former goaltender Ryan Miller as a goalie scout.
Grier also mentioned that Miller would be working closely with Evgeni Nabokov, the team’s current goalie development coach, in a similar role. Although neither Miller nor Vanek played for the Sharks during their professional careers on the ice, the two did play with Grier with the Buffalo Sabres back during the 2005-06 season, as well as the last two seasons in Grier’s career from 2009-11.
For Vanek, this will be his first position in an NHL organization outside of his career as a player. Drafted fifth overall by the Sabres in the 2003 NHL Draft, Vanek would become one of the better goal-scorers in the league during his time in Buffalo. After a midseason trade sent him to the New York Islanders in 2013, Vanek became more of a secondary scoring option on most of the teams he played for, still producing solid offensive numbers until the conclusion of his career. Vanek’s last year in the NHL came during his second stint with the Detroit Red Wings in the 2018-19 season, officially retiring in 2020.
Much like Vanek, Miller’s best years of his career came during his time with the Sabres organization. Highlighted by a Vezina Trophy win during the 2009-10 season, Miller became one of, if not the greatest American-born goalie of all time. During the 2013-14 trade deadline season, Miller became one of the most sought-after prizes for contending teams and landed with the St.Louis Blues to finish out the regular season. After his time in St.Louis, Miller would conclude his career after the 2021-21 NHL season, after moderately lengthy stays with both the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. Now almost a year ago, it was announced that Miller would be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
For the most part, it does appear to be a mostly personal hire from Grier’s perspective, since neither Vanek nor Miller have any professional coaching experience off the ice. However, given the career success of both of these players and their relationships having played together for so long, should become a success for the Sharks organization and the overall development of the team.