Getting To Know NHL Goaltender Thomas Greiss

Oct 22, 2016
by JustanOtherider  
Thomas Greiss


If you’re reading this site, it’s because we’re linked by a common passion. A borderline obsession probably. We may come from different corners of the planet and do different things to finance our riding habit, but we’re all united by a special place that a simple machine connecting two wheels and a human powered chain leads us to.

One of the folks who you may have ridden up the chair within Whistler last summer is Thomas Greiss. A self-admitted bike geek with an interesting day job as an NHL hockey goalie, and two-time Olympian. While the cliché joke in hockey is to send opposing players to the golf course after being eliminated from playoff competition, Greiss (who hates golf) would rather A-Line straight to Whistler after the season. And no, B-Line is not the more appropriate allegory to describe activities for “Greisser,” unless maybe he’s doing a lap with a young fan. Greiss is more likely to be throwing his bike around A-Line, Joyride, or Captain Safety than cruising down B-Line. [Ed note: Don’t explain the difference to his NHL boss.] All of which seems like the opposite of what you’d expect from him if you've witnessed his unwavering calm demeanor during any of his NHL playoff interviews.

He is, as he appears on TV, an incredibly soft spoken guy who never seems to get riled up about anything - even while being the last line of defense in the most intense double overtime playoff games. Plus, he plays a hockey position that’s mostly confined to sliding back and forth across a 6’ x 8’ blue painted box. So, he’d appear to be the least likely guy to get rowdy ripping around on a bike with a bunch of freeriders in Whistler. But while most of his peers’ head to exotic tropical destinations to golf or simply relax and recoup in the off-season, Greiss can more likely be found deep in the forest riding with buddies like Darren Berrecloth or Greg Watts.

So, who is Thomas Greiss? And is he one of us?

Thomas Greiss

Who is Thomas Greiss?

A 30-year-old German living in the States for the last 10 years who likes his beers and all kinds of action sports but didn't have the balls to do them himself so settled on playing hockey.

Hometown?

Born in Fussen, Germany. Currently living close to Brevard, NC in the off-season. And of course, New York.

Thank you @ny_islanders and fans for a great season! Now off to Russia. #teamgermany #worldchampionshipofhockey

A photo posted by Thomas Greiss (@thomasgreiss1) on


You're a pro hockey player for the New York Islanders, Germany (In 2 Olympics) and Team Europe (World Cup of Hockey 2016)? Any sponsors or good folks that help you out?

The biggest one is my hockey equipment sponsor Vaughn. For sure they're great to work with. There are lots of great bike industry people I've gotten to meet over the years who like hockey. The Gravity Cartel with IXS/Spank, Devinci Cycles, Yeti, and Specialized are just a few who I've been lucky enough to meet and ride with!

What do you love most about your 'day job'?

Just the competition part. Playing at a high level and pushing yourself as far and hard as possible. Also, it’s just a fun time in the dressing room and traveling with a good group of guys, staying together through the ups and down of a long season.

Getting To Know Thomas Greiss

If playing hockey wasn’t your day job, what would you want to do?

That’s a tough one. I played a lot of sports growing up and was quite good at skiing. Maybe I would have focused more on that. But other than an athletic career, I always enjoyed Engineering and Math so probably something in that direction. Or maybe a ski/bike bum.

Why do you ride?

Growing up in south Germany in the Alps, there was a lot of great riding right at my doorstep. My parents are also big bikers to this day, with my dad being almost 75 and still going for 50+ mile mountain bike rides. They got me into mountain biking for sure and started my love for it. I love being out in the woods and on a mountain. It’s also a nice change with being inside a lot with hockey. Also, I dislike running, so biking is a good way to get my cardio in. Plus, there is usually a nice reward for grinding up with a fun downhill coming back down.


Getting To Know Thomas Greiss
Where are your favourite places to ride? Why?

I have been lucky enough to ride in a lot of places, but Whistler and Squamish are up there for sure! I do a bike trip with a bunch of buddies every summer and we have been to Whistler the last few years. We always have a great time there. The trails are so well built and have a great progression and just make you a better rider. Then my home trails around where I am living in NY are pretty fun! When I played with the San Jose Sharks there were great trails (and a great scene) right over the hill in Santa Cruz. When I played for the Coyotes, Phoenix/Scottsdale had some awesome trails, including some that I could ride right from my front door. My last few summers I spent close to Brevard, NC and there are tons of fun trails with a great variety from flowy fast to steep and technical. Plus, they have great beer down there (very important for a German) and good BBQ! Then back home in Germany, it’s always great to ride with friends and family on the trails you grew up on.


Favourite trails?

In Whistler, it would be Schleyer, Original Sin, Clown Shoes, and all those technical trails. I’m not a big jumper but love the technical stuff. Freight Train is fun to mix it up and Fade to Black is a fun one, especially because I have never seen braking bumps in there! Around Brevard, it would be Benett Gap and Farlow Gap. Both easy pedals up and fun technical downhill, with a bunch of stream crossings on Farlow. Santa Cruz has too many fun trails to even start picking one! Tom’s Thumb was the out the door go-to in Arizona. But lot’s of fun stuff between Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Sedona.



Any folks you like to ride with?

Anybody who has fun riding their bike, that’s one of the great things about mountain biking; you meet lots of cool people. You’re on your way up in the chairlift, meet somebody new, maybe do a few laps together. And it’s always great when I get to ride with my buddies from back home or North America.

One place you’d love to ride, but haven’t made it yet?

New Zealand. It just looks amazing over there. Unluckily, with the hockey schedule, it’s not the easiest destination to go hit up. But it's on the bucket list for sure. I love the scenery over there and the trails seem to be killer.


One guy or gal you’d love to ride with, but haven’t yet?

Biking has lots of great characters! But I am a big Steve Peat fan. I think it would be a fun time riding with him. At least ‘till he leaves me in the dust two turns into the track.

Where are you happiest?

Lots of places; playing hockey, riding bikes, and the biggest one is probably spending time with the family.

What is (or was) your favourite hockey venue and/or event?

Chicago has one of the best rinks in the NHL. The anthem singer is the best in the league and gets the crowd really fired up. The Olympics in Vancouver was special as well. The Canadian's love for hockey made for a great tournament and experience.


What are your strengths as a rider?

I am a pretty big (as in 230 lb.) rider with decent strength. So, I am pretty natural at muscling the bike around and just holding a straight line to plow through the rough stuff
Getting To Know Thomas Greiss

Weaknesses as a rider?

I'm not the most comfortable jumper. I always feel like if I go down hard with a big injury it would happen on a big jump.

Getting To Know Thomas Greiss

Tell us about your worst crash over the years.

I have been pretty lucky over the last few years with nothing major. I ride on the safer side of things as an injury could be pretty bad for the whole hockey thing. A few stitches here and there were the biggest penalties since I've been in North America. Back home in Germany when I was younger I managed to knock myself out after my head met a tree.

Which bike from over the years conjures up the best memories?

Nowadays pretty much all bikes are so well designed and fun it’s hard to pick one, but thinking back my first real mountain bike; fully rigid, but with decent rim brakes was awesome! It started the love for biking that is still going strong.

Current bikes and build?

Yeti SB6C XO1 stock build. No carbon wheels. Only modification; Magura MT7 brakes. Devinci Wilson 26, Spank wheels and handlebar and Shimano Saint brakes.

Greisser s Greissy Devinci Wilson

Who or what inspires you?

Every time I see a Matt Hunter 'Trail Hunter' video I just wanna go ride my bike. I think he is one of the best at just bringing the joy of riding onto the computer screen. Also, just the pure fun of playing hockey and riding bikes. At the end of the day, I am very lucky to play a game for work. Sometimes it can get a bit too serious, but I always gotta remember why I started playing, and that's just for the pure love of it.

Getting To Know Thomas Greiss

What do you enjoy doing away from bikes and the hockey arena?

Spending time with the family and our three dogs. They keep me busy and are a good distraction from hockey.

What are you listening to right now? (pre-game)?

Pre-game we have one of the younger guys in charge as the DJ. There is a pretty wild mix of pump up songs from hip-hop to rock to some classic stuff. Just hanging out or on the plane I love Pandora or services like that. My favorite bands are Coldplay, older Green Day and Offspring.

Favourite movie/TV show?

Family Guy, Batman movies, Iron Man.

Favourite non-bike website?

Google.

Favourite motto or saying?

Not a motto really, but I saw a quote this summer that I liked: "The average cyclist pedals 1852 miles per year and drinks 22 gallons of beer. That's 84 MPG."

What makes you happy?

Riding bikes, family time, and BBQ's with German beer.

What grinds your gears?

Traffic. Especially here in NY.

Getting To Know Thomas Greiss

If you were in charge of the sport of mountain biking, what changes would you make?

Pay the riders a salary more deserving of their skill and work ethic and make sure they have great health care.


We see you actively support Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day and Autism Awareness, anything you'd like to comment on that?

The smiles say it all.


Special skills?

Can cook 1-minute rice in 57 seconds.

When you hang up your skates, how do you want to be remembered?

Good teammate. One that played hard for the guys in the locker room.

What does the future hold for Thomas Greiss?

Hopefully a few more good years of hockey. And maybe after that somebody will hire me somewhere to bum around in a bike shop. Or who knows, maybe something totally unexpected will present itself.


MENTIONS: @JustanOtherider


Must Read This Week

99 Comments

  • + 102
 Awesome! I feel terrible for dropping him from my fantasy hockey team now...
  • + 37
 Fantasy hockey is the most Canadian thing I've heard in a long time.
  • + 7
 @colinthemetz: Maple Stout?
  • + 3
 @colinthemetz: Since i'm not a hockey fan (i do play but don't watch all the games), I can observe my fellow canadian friends being involved in a mesmerizing amount of hockey related things. You have no idea what being a montreal canadians fan (or other ''local'' team) can involve. Damn the hockey season is long when you have to hear player stats every day. :p
  • + 74
 "Yeti SB6C XO1 stock build. No carbon wheels."

Even millionaires don't want carbon wheels!

Smile
  • - 20
flag Marcusthefarkus (Oct 22, 2016 at 9:03) (Below Threshold)
 Even millionaires are stubborn
  • + 53
 @Marcusthefarkus: Markus don't be a farkus
  • + 10
 If carbon wheels are too harsh and not reliable enough for a fricking NHL goalie...
  • + 11
 @WAKIdesigns: @WAKIdesigns: Goalies are weird. I don't beside them in the dressing room due to the weirdness they emit.
  • + 2
 Spent all his cash on a SVT Raptor instead! Wink
  • + 3
 @gonecoastal: I liked to be a goalie when I was a kid... never got it why other kids treated it as a punishment... deep inside I knew that this Western culture is fkd up, that it celebrates the people in the camera spot, as if strikers were the best and the rest of the team were the losers who never got to be strikers...
  • + 1
 @gonecoastal: well, we all need a good shuttle truck.
  • + 53
 ya greiss!!! good to see ya on Pink bike finally
  • + 46
 "If you were in charge of the sport of mountain biking, what changes would you make?

Pay the riders a salary more deserving of their skill and work ethic and make sure they have great health care"

-Best part right here! Industry leaders, I hope you're listening!!
  • + 17
 Unfortunately, salaries aren't based on skill and work ethic, they're based on financial returns.
  • + 33
 As a hockey player and fan, this article makes me happy, and a big fan of Greisser!
  • + 19
 Was thinking the same thing, gotta be one of my fav interviews to read in the past year. Mixing two of my favorite sports together (I guess three if you count his love of drinking good beer). Well done on bringing in something unexpected PB!
  • + 23
 rad guy, id love to ride with him
  • + 17
 Interesting interview and different from the norm, always good to see sports men and women from other disciplines enjoying mountain biking. Being a mountain biker and father to an autistic child just wanted to say thank you for the 'different is not less'. Much appreciated and happy trails.
  • + 19
 I think what we learned here is that the nucks should tryou and aquire Greiss as a backup for markstrom....
  • + 3
 It only makes sense for him to go to the Canes. That and an extended offseason to ride PNF. Razz
  • + 3
 Really just any Canadian team would benefit him at this point.
  • + 4
 Did ya see Greisser carry the load in the Islanders playoff run last year? I think the good fans in New York would agree he could start!
  • + 17
 Dude sounds pretty cool. Great attitude. Humble. Funny. Has his priorities straight.
  • + 12
 I'm from NY. I'm a NY Ranger fan. But I now have a new found bromance with this dude. Very cool indeed.
  • + 2
 Same here. Would love to know if he rides any of the trails on Long Island near their practice facility. Not quite Whistler ha.
  • + 1
 Stay in your lane. Go Isles!
  • + 1
 @JBZeroCool: Where are the trails you're talking about? I grew up in West Hempstead, haven't lived there for years and didn't ride when I did, but would love to ride when I go back to visit.
  • + 9
 Having been friends with Griess the last few years and one of his summer riding buddies, I can tell you he is about the most genuine and personable guy you could ever meet! And if he wasn't playing hockey he could have been a pro mountain biker cause he is that good of a rider! Stoked to see this article on him, hopefully he gets more of his team mates riding instead of Golf! Haha
  • + 10
 Wow, great interview, solid guy!
Can't believe how fast he can cook rice?!
  • + 4
 @JustanOtherider if you or Greiss read this post you need to connect Matt Hunter and Greiss together next summer. They would have a great time together because both have the same kind of vibe. I rode with Matt a couple of years ago (so he'll ride with almost anyone). I'm sure Greiss would love the Kamloops trails as well.
  • + 1
 Agree! Both great kids, solid riders, and fun guys to be around. I'm sure they'll cross paths and good vibes. And ya, who wouldn't love the 'loops?
  • + 5
 I know nothing about this dude and/or the sport of hockey, but he is now my favorite player and I'd love to meet him on a trail and/or at the end of the ride for a cold one.

Signed,
New York Islanders newest fan
  • + 8
 Great interview! Wonder how many NHLers ride.
  • + 11
 I know some of the guys that played WHL rode a lot, Dan Hamhuis, Eric Brewer. I always thought that once a person signed a pro contract, any non hockey activities like skiing, climbing & biking were off limits. A buddy I went to high school signed with Minnesota & part of his contract included not participating in "high risk" sports. That was almost 30 years ago so things must have changed. Great to see hockey players doing more than golf in their off season.
  • + 3
 @wideload46: that is what I was wondering, how he was even allowed to ride with a NHL contract? Maybe if he gets hurt he voids his deal and he is just living with that risk.
  • + 1
 I've read that a few of the Flames in the later Iginla years would road ride with Catriona Lemay Doan (Canadian speed skater, 2x 500m gold medalist, Shane Doan's cousin). To clarify, Iggy said they'd ride with her until she'd drop the hammer on them.
  • + 1
 There are a few. You never know who you'll run into on the trail these days. Or maybe even see on Pinkbike some day...
  • + 1
 @wideload46: thanks for the tips. We'll ask.

Shh... don't tell the GM's. They think it's just good conditioning.
  • + 3
 GO FLYERS! haha we are big hockey fans here at Community. Great dude right here didn't know he was into biking? When you play in philly and have some time to kill drop in for a cold one! The Keg is always full!, and we aren't far from the Rink. We carry yeti too!
  • + 3
 I spent a weekend in Downieville riding with Thomas when he still played with the SJ Sharks. Savage athlete, that dude could lay down some sprint, but our good ole Santa Cruz mountain boy Pozi Pete gave him a great run for his money mashing through rock garden after rock garden. Super a chill guy to hang out with and very humble. We turned him onto Corralitos Market sausage too... said it was better than any German sausage he's ever had!
  • + 7
 I give the interview a 9 out 10. 10 out 10, with (57 second) rice.
  • + 4
 A big hockey fan/season ticket holder I love this. Even better that he is a goalie. Great to see a NHL doing this in the off season. I have heard a lot of NHL guys like to road bike in the summer, but this is different.
  • + 5
 As a lot have said before me, great interview, would love to read about more celeb / sportspeople mountain bikers. I believe Mark Webber is a dam good rider ??
  • + 5
 The bass player from Rage Against The Machine can throw back flips on his bike. Love to see PB due an interview with him. Or better yet a video edit, the soundtrack would be just another bomb track.
  • + 5
 RATM bsckflip contest on his home track. How I would spend my millions. m.youtube.com/watch?v=GhCJiQ3jTyQ
  • + 1
 Might have to ask him about that.
  • + 1
 All in good fun, but what do you think the chances are we'd find this same cross over from the world of pro soccer?
I'm guessing we'd have better luck if we checked the ballet LOL (sorry! you might not even be a soccer fan , just went with the odds.)
  • + 2
 Great article! Another cool feature you could look into is NBA legend and basketball hall-of-famer Reggie Miller. Since his retirement he's gotten big into mountain biking and according to his instagram recently started XC racing. Trains with Sonya Looney and Lauren Gregg, I think? He posts more about mtb on social media than basketball these days. I'm not sure if there's a more well-known professional athlete riding mountain bikes these days.
  • + 1
 That's cool. Maybe we'll have to track him down for a chat?
  • + 1
 Trevor Linden !!
  • + 2
 So cool to see this, I played hockey for probably 15 of my younger years and sort of tapered off both in interest and in playing once I got into mtb. Greiss is the man. It's great to hear that he prefers getting out on the bike as opposed to a tropical destination, I'm definitely on his side!
  • + 6
 Trevor Linden is an avid cyclist too.
  • + 1
 Rumor has it a very good one too.
  • + 2
 I know he said he rides more carefully but I'm still very surprised to see a pro athlete out on a DH bike in the offseason. Even a backup goalie like him likely makes 1-2 million a year. One bad crash could be very costly to a guy like him. I say good for him but if it were me I don't think I'd be doing it.
  • + 2
 Far the best article I've read nowadays. This guy isn't a pro or fro in riding, still inspires me with his honest attitude and as he sees of world in a whole. Fav to the article and Thomas Greiss of course.
  • + 4
 Love seeing articles like this, definitely going to the game when he comes to Vancouver to cheer him on!
  • + 4
 Blue Mountain Reservation about an hour outside NYC has some great riding. Come on up.
  • + 5
 Just started liking the Islanders a little bit more. Awesome interview
  • + 3
 "Pay the riders a salary more deserving of their skill and work ethic and make sure they have great health care."

That!
Great interview
  • + 3
 If he wants to ride with peaty he'll be well under 84mpg by the end of the night
  • + 2
 i remember seeing him at trail head cyclery in San Jose. So awesome. I love hockey and mountain biking and seeing him in there was just rad. Rooting for you Greiss! Isanders!
  • + 2
 Well me German mate. You're always welcome down here. We have plenty of mint tracks on offer. No rush though. Take your time and enjoy it.
  • + 2
 Something about Islanders goalies and MTB...Kelly Hrudey used to be a regular visitor in the North Van and Squamish trails. I think Griess rides to a higher level though.
  • + 2
 Awesome Interview, It would be cool to see a list compiled of all the pro athletes from the mainstream sports that are cyclists, and yes even road!
  • + 4
 Was a pretty rad interview untill the whole coldplay thing came up...
  • + 1
 Ha that made me wince too but he kinda made up for it by qualifying Green Day with 'older' lol - what, some Gilman bootlegs? Not a big GD fan but here in the bay ya gotta give those kids their dap for rising up outta the burbs and hills.
  • + 2
 Zee Germans!

Stark Thomas, radln und Eishockey, de beiden besten Sportarten de's gibt.

What hurts more? Crashing your head into a tree or taking a slapshot to the mask?
  • + 2
 Let's go Islanders !!! He is not the first Islanders goalie that was into mountain biking Kelly Hrudey. Thomas needs to check out long islands great trails!
  • + 1
 The pride of the Medicine Hat Tigers? Fine man. There are actually a few hockey commentators who ride.

wpmedia.calgaryherald.com/2015/02/new-york-islanders-v-boston-bruins.jpg?quality=55&strip=all&w=840&h=630&crop=1
  • + 2
 Super cool Lets go Islanders!!! Does anyone remember another Islander goalie who also rode mountain bikes Kelly Hrudey.
  • + 1
 You bet, another good ole Edmonton boy. Played against Kelly, as the other opposing goaltender, when we were younger.
He obviously was the better goalie, Motocross split my focus, I'm going to believe I'm better on two wheels! ????
  • + 3
 Best quote... 84 MPG on beer. Perfect!
  • + 2
 Yeah, tons of people who play hockey are also into mountain biking, I have great memories riding with team mates.
  • + 2
 Haha I love how the NHL goalie says he never had the balls to participate in action sports... #balldysmorphia
  • + 3
 More of these!! Super cool interview!
  • + 3
 Tom's Thumb....awesome trail!
  • + 2
 Great write up about an awesome dude!! Keep shreddin Greisser and good luck this season!
  • + 2
 He is now my favorite player! For so many reasons Smile sounds like a really good guy
  • + 3
 great interview. would love to see more of these
  • + 1
 i love taking selfies of me so i can look at my Facebook page and be what up?
  • + 2
 it's "Füssen", not Fussen. #knowyourumlauts
  • + 1
 Mein Fehler! Sorry to all offended. I guess I'll have to take a trip to Füssen to properly learn such nuances over several steins and pilstulpes of German beer and a rip or two around the Bavarian Alps.
  • + 1
 ^ New favorite hashtag...
  • + 2
 As an MTB fan. This is awesome As a Kings fan....
  • + 2
 26" wheels on the big bike and making more than any Pro Cyclist = winning.
  • + 2
 Awesome looking Wilson he's got!!
  • + 2
 One of the nicest guys I've ever met!
  • + 2
 Greiss Gott.
  • + 2
 Wot a fookin ace bloke!
  • + 1
 Hockey and bikes nothing better!
  • + 1
 The Tommy G of enduro
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