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Predators GM David Poile savoring every moment of Stanley Cup Final

Longtime executive has chance at championship for first time in NHL career

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

PITTSBURGH -- David Poile didn't know what to do next.

It was an odd sensation for the general manager of the Nashville Predators, a man used to making important decisions, many of which are life-altering for those involved.

But at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday, Poile stood in the middle of the maelstrom that is Stanley Cup Final Media Day and turned one way, then another, without taking a step, a permanent smile creasing his face. He greeted old friends, made during a lifetime in hockey and more than three decades as a GM in the NHL, and new acquaintances with a hearty handshake or pat on the back.

At all times, he was in awe of his surroundings and the fact that his journey through hockey had finally brought him to the pinnacle of his sport.

The start of the Stanley Cup Final seemed so far in the future, not right around the corner. Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins is Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Video: The success of general managers Rutherford, Poile

Poile will focus on the game when it comes. He will live and die with every call as it happens, celebrate or despair with each goal. But, on Sunday, that could wait.

Sunday was a time of celebration and reflection for Poile. He embraced it enthusiastically, setting aside his often stoic, businesslike persona for a new mask.

"I tell you, I can't believe how excited I am," Poile said at the podium on media day, facing as big a throng of media as he has ever faced. "As [Nashville coach] Peter [Laviolette] said, I don't ever take this for granted. This could be my first day on the job. This is unbelievable. The turnout, how big this is, how proud I am of our franchise, our team.

"It's as good as anything that's ever happened to me, obviously for us, for our franchise. It's just been fantastic."

It could be Poile's first day on the job, but it isn't.

Poile is a hockey lifer. He has spent 35 years running an NHL team, first with the Washington Capitals from 1982-98 and then from Day One with the Predators in 1997. Yet this is the first time Poile has reached the grand stage of the Cup Final. In that, he is like the majority of the organization he has built from scratch in Music City.

 

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Laviolette is in his third Final, having won the Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes and losing in 2010 with the Philadelphia Flyers. Captain Mike Fisher reached the Final with the Ottawa Senators in 2007, losing in five games to the Anaheim Ducks.

No other player on the roster has appeared in a Final game.

However, a lack of experience does not mean a lack of knowledge. Poile knows these next two weeks will add to his personal legacy and the history of the Predators. A win will cement his place in history. A loss will sting for the rest of his days in hockey, and beyond.

But the risk is well worth the reward for Poile, and he plans to absorb all the experiences that come his way throughout this series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"I'm trying to take in every moment of it, remember it, enjoy it as best I can," Poile said. "Maybe after all these years, maybe I have a little bit more appreciation for this than somebody who had done it at a younger, earlier age in their career.

"But, believe me, I'm appreciating every moment of this."

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