Brent Grieve never got to fulfill his promise as a hockey player due to injuries that cut his career short. In the end it was his injured knees that forced him to quit playing the game he loved.
Grieve was never a full time NHLer, spending more time in the minors than the NHL in every season except for one. Grieve was a big left winger who's job was to control the boards and dig for loose pucks in the corners. Grieve had good enough hands to be able to do something with the retrieved puck as well, and was at his best when went to the front of the net. Grieve never stuck in the NHL because injuries stunted his development, particularly his skating which was average at best at the NHL level.
Grieve was lucky as a kid. He never had to leave home at an early again order to play junior hockey. Instead he got to play with his hometown Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. Brent would end up playing four seasons with the Generals, recording 46 goals and 93 points in his final year with Oshawa while also helping the Generals capture the 1990 Memorial Cup championship. That championship was a highlite of Brent's, as was getting to play with a young Eric Lindros.
"That was a very special year. I guess if you had to look at it non-pro wise, I guess that was probably one of the biggest years in my life when we won the Canadian championship. It was a very special team. Eric came in and really gave us the boost we needed to put us in the front there. When I was playing with him then, it was sort of at the start of his career so I didn’t really, as a veteran on that team, I sort of just looked upon it as a great, young kid coming in to play and he was the phenom and he had all the attention given to him. But I think basically he was a great young player and now that I look back on it I really feel fortunate that I got to play with somebody that played as well as he did,” recalled Grieve
A fourth round pick of the New York Islanders in 1989, Grieve made his professional hockey debut in 1990-91 as he spent most of the season with the Capital District Islanders of the American Hockey League. He played fairly solidly for a rookie adjusting to the pro game.
Brent went on to play the next two full seasons with Capital District, and became one of the team's top players. He scored 34 goals each season, 1991-92 and 1992-93.
The Islanders moved their farm team to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1993-94, where Grieve started out with another solid season before finally getting a shot at the NHL when the Isles called him up for a three game try-out. Soon after his stint with the Isles, the team gave up on Brent and trade him to the Edmonton Oilers for minor league tough guy Marc Laforge. Grieve immediately stepped into the Oilers lineup and made the Isles look bad by exploding for 13 goals in 24 games. 3 of those goals came in a game against Los Angeles, and left people thinking that this Grieve kid had a real shot at the NHL.
However Grieve's success was short lived. He finished the year with the Oilers farm team and was released as a free agent in the summer. He signed on with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1994-95 season, the only season in which he collected an NHL paycheck the entire year. Unfortunately for Grieve, he earned his paycheck on the injured list as he got into only 24 games with the Hawks, scoring just once.
The Hawks brought him back in 1995-96, and played him 28 games, scoring just twice. He spent most of the year in the IHL, splitting time with Indianapolis and Phoenix.
Grieve became an unrestricted free agent again in 1996 and was signed by the L.A. Kings. The Kings had hoped he could regain the form that saw him score a hat trick against them earlier, but Grieve's wobbly knees wouldn't let him finish the year, let alone recapture past glories. Grieve played in 18 games with LA, scoring 4 goals.
In total, Grieve played in just 97 NHL games, scoring 20 goals and 16 assists. 4 of his goals came on the powerplay, and 1 was a game winner.
Looking back at Grieve's career, its safe to say that Grieve was a really good player at the AHL and IHL level but except for one hot streak with Edmonton, he never really showed much at the NHL level. He was a hard worker who played in any role he was asked to play, but at the NHL level he was mostly asked to play a minor role, seeing very little ice time.
“I’d like to be remembered as a pro hockey player as a great team guy and respected among my peers. I made a lot of great friendships while I played and I just want to be remembered as a hard working individual that always put the team first,” says Grieve.
Grieve's self - assessment is pretty accurate.