NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Nashville Predators general manager David Poile:
Eighteen-and-a-half years in the town aptly known as "Music City USA" has turned Nashville Predators general manager David Poile into a country music fan.
"I have become one, absolutely," Poile said. "The fact that we've had so many stars actually come to our games, sing at our games between periods, do the national anthem, it's part of our fabric for sure."
Poile lists Vince Gill and Amy Grant as his favorites.
"For me, those are two of the best voices ever," he said.
Gill's inclusion in the upcoming NHL All-Star Weekend festivities in Nashville is yet another reason, among a plethora of them, that Poile is so excited to show his adopted city off to the hockey world.
A Predators season-ticket holder, Gill is scheduled to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on Jan. 31 (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), the main event of a weekend Poile has been looking forward to since Oct. 17, 2014, when the NHL announced that Nashville would host.
Poile talked about growing Nashville into a hockey city and the Predators in their current state in this week's Q&A.
Here are Five Questions with…David Poile:
You have been there since the inception in Nashville. You've seen it all. So what does the All-Star Game coming to Nashville, to your city, mean to you, not necessarily everyone else, but you in particular?
"It's kind of like several years ago you moved into a new house and now you've got it all fixed up like you want and you're proud to invite your friends and family over to show it off. I guess that's the way I feel about Nashville and the hockey city that it's become. It's been years in the making, a lot of highs and lows, bumps along the way to make Nashville a hockey city and to see the enthusiasm of our fans and I would say the love of our team here in Nashville. I would say it's about pride to have people from all over the world to come to the All-Star Game to not only take in the All-Star Game, but equally if not more important to take in the city of Nashville and all the things we have to offer to our visitors."
Is there something in particular you're looking forward to the most about what is upcoming here? What has really caught your eye and excites you?
"I'm personally really excited about the new format, the 3-on-3 with divisions playing against divisions. I think the fan appeal is certainly very, very, very high. I think the players will find this format to be a lot of fun. It will allow the best players in the game to show off their creativity. I'm really hoping that it's a change that will be well-received by our fans."
What makes Nashville a special hockey town?
"You don't develop success overnight when you're a non-traditional market. I think so many facets about our organization have done a fabulous job. Our players on the ice. Our players off the ice. Our community-relations people getting out there with street hockey and selling the game. Our business side incorporating sponsors into our building, into our team. The whole thing feels like it has come together. That's what makes it special for having our game here and showing that off. If people have not been to Nashville before, they will really recognize this as being a hockey city. The big plus in all of this is the city of Nashville. Our building is located in absolutely the best spot you could ever have a building located for the entertainment business. Our regular fans have a great situation before the games for dinner or entertainment or drinks, if you will, and they have the same thing after the game. The crowd just pours out into Broadway, which is just a fantastic entertainment venue that everyone enjoys. It's just a great set-up that we have here in Nashville. From whenever you're on your way to the game to the time you get home, it is non-stop entertainment. It's hard to compare what we're able to offer to any other arena or any other facility."
You're a hockey guy and you came to Nashville after 15 seasons as the GM of the Washington Capitals. Did you have to also become a hockey salesman in Nashville, and is it selling itself now?
"Oh, absolutely. Doing a lot of appearances at clubs and businesses, lunches, that's certainly a big part of the business too. We ask our players to participate in the community and we want to be part of the community with our team. Those responsibilities certainly go along with our jobs whether it be as a manager, coach or players. Our foundation here is a lot more solid. A lot of our players are recognized in the community. But I don't think we should ever take anything for granted. We have to do better on the ice. We have to win some playoff rounds. For a relatively young franchise, you can always create new and more fans and we're going to continue to do that."
Now let's talk about the entertainment on the ice. Your team got a necessary and big 3-0 win against the Minnesota Wild over the weekend. It stopped a five-game losing streak. You've recently made a blockbuster trade. Assess where the Predators are now in your opinion.
"Well, we're certainly not where we want to be. We got off to a really good start in the month of October, but we've been struggling. Probably there is a handful of reasons, but at the top of the list is we're just not scoring goals at the rate we did last year. I think if we can get back to better offensive production, that would go a long way toward winning the games we were winning last year. The games we were winning 3-2 last year, we seem to be on the wrong side of those this year. We made a huge trade, Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen. We're looking for more offense, and I think with our still strong defense and our goaltending, that should give us better balance going forward. There's probably a little bit of a chemistry, or feeling-out, period with Johansen. All the lines got moved around because of that trade. We need better offensive production and we need all the lines contributing. I think we're close and we're starting to show signs that we're there. The second half of the season, we're going to make it happen."