NASHVILLE – With general manager David Poile recovering and under observation in a Minnesota hospital two days after he was hit by an errant puck at a morning skate, the Nashville Predators were proceeding with business as usual Saturday. But Poile, the only general manager in the organization's history, is very much in their minds.
Poile, who also is serving as the general manager of the United States team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, underwent two facial procedures on Thursday, one on his orbital bone and one on his nose, while also receiving stitches for lacerations. A team spokesman said Saturday morning that the organization had no update on Poile's condition.
Predators coach Barry Trotz has worked with Poile for more than two decades, as their relationship dates back to their time when Poile managed the Washington Capitals and Trotz was a scout and minor-league coach for that franchise. Trotz said he has not spoken to Poile but he has spoken to his son Brian, Nashville's director of hockey operations, who remains in Minnesota with his father.
"I know from our standpoint, we just want David to return back to Nashville and get healthy and carry on," Trotz said as his team prepared to play the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. "One of the things about David and the Poile family, and I've been around David for a long time, is David is a very caring person. He cares about the people, he cares about the team, he cares about the community he lives in. He's a very caring person and because he's such a caring person, when something happens to him there's a lot of people who are concerned and care for David.
"We're just hoping he's fine and heals up and he'll be as good as new once he heals up."
With a roster freeze already in effect, assistant general manager Paul Fenton said the team was proceeding "just the same as it normally is."
"Just because he's in the hospital and up there it's no different," Fenton said.
Fenton was among those who have gone to the hospital to visit Poile, the third-longest tenured general manager in NHL history. He called Poile a mentor but also a friend.
"You don't like to see anybody in pain and he was in pain," Fenton said. "Hopefully he heals quickly here. It certainly isn't anything I want to talk about or his family wants to talk about. He got hit by a puck. It hurt and he's in pain and hopefully everything just takes care of itself, the operations take care of it."
The Predators have asked for the public to respect Poile's privacy as he recovers. When Trotz was asked about how the family is dealing with the situation, he responded, "I think that's not a really great question for me to answer. I think in different ways. They're all dealing with it different."
Predators wing Eric Nystrom said the players are thinking about Poile.
"It was a just case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "The fact that the puck went flying over the bench and into the runway hall and caught him is just bad luck and obviously everybody's hoping that he gets well soon. He's a hockey guy so I'm sure he's going to recover really fast and have high spirits. But it was scary, real scary."
Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler will play on the U.S. Olympic team that Poile was in charge of picking. Fowler will fly out of Atlanta on Sunday on his way to Sochi. Poile would have been on that flight but he has had to delay traveling to the tournament. The Predators said in a statement that Poile still hopes to make the journey to Russia. The United States' first game is Thursday against Slovakia.
Some American players like Fowler are still learning the details of what happened to Poile.
"I've only heard a little bit about it," Fowler said. "Obviously you hope for the best for him and I hope he's doing OK. It's just one of those fluke things. I don't think you can get much worse timing than that right now. I just want him to know we're thinking about him and thoughts and prayers are with him and we hope to see him as soon as we can."
Trotz, in ruminating on Poile, also mentioned the bad timing with the Olympics.
"The last thing you want is that to happen to someone that you care about and someone who really was innocently bystanding," Trotz said. "Obviously, the timing with the Olympics and all that puts a lot of strain on a lot of different elements. He's probably more concerned if we win this game tonight or not and that everybody's healthy so we're just trying to keep him updated on what we're doing and how everybody's doing and obviously our thoughts and prayers go out to him and the family.
"I know a lot of the players keep asking, 'Any updates?' So there's a lot of concern because he's been such a class individual to everybody over the years."