When David Poile opened his eyes for the first time on Tuesday morning - and the first time ever as a NHL conference champion - he thought maybe he'd be able to enjoy a relatively low-key day, perhaps even a day off.
But for the general manager of the Nashville Predators, a man who has spent 35 years as a GM within the League, this was new territory, even for him.
He quickly realized the more than 200 text messages and emails that appeared on his smartphone - most congratulatory, but some pertaining to business - weren't going to afford him the potential of an afternoon nap.
After all, he and the Preds have a Stanley Cup Final to prepare for - their first in franchise history. And Poile wouldn't have it any other way.
"We say at the beginning of the season, 'What are your goals?' Well, your goal is to get into the playoffs," Poile said Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena. "You can say it's the Stanley Cup, but it's to get in the playoffs - that's how hard it is. Then you have to peak at the right time, and ladies and gentlemen, this year we've peaked - for the first time - at the right time."
Series wins over Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim would seem to suggest that - a total of 12 wins over the last six weeks and the first team to secure their spot to vie for the game's ultimate prize. Poile and the Preds will jet to either Pittsburgh or Ottawa on Saturday in advance of Monday's Game One in an Eastern Conference city, just one more moment when the GM will likely stop and "smell the roses."
"I'm trying my best to take in everything that's happening to visualize it… It's all fantastic," Poile said. "People have always asked me who am I happy for, what am I the happiest about; I just think we've affected so many people and our city in such a positive way. If I want to be proud of something, I think that would be it."
There are plenty of people Poile is happy for after Monday's accomplishment. He's thrilled for 36-year-old Captain Mike Fisher who Poile is "optimistic" will be able to return from injury to play in the Final. He's ecstatic for All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban - acquired over the summer - who Poile says has been "tremendous" in these playoffs.
But along the lines of taking it all in, Poile couldn't help but mention his better half, Elizabeth, who he asked to come downtown early before Game Six. The couple went for a stroll outside the Arena to witness thousands descending into the area, decked out in Gold, some with tickets and some with lawn chairs in hand, just to be part of the experience.
"I know this will all sink in and it's fantastic," Poile said. "I'm happy for myself, I'm happy for my wife, who's gone through this with me for 45 years - that's a personal record, by the way. And it's fantastic. The whole experience is - I don't know - I can't think of anything better that's ever happened to me in all my years in hockey."
And while he may not be able to recall an instance in the past that rises above all else, Poile can certainly visualize what could come to fruition next month. But he won't get ahead of himself. Plus, there's still plenty to enjoy in the present.
"The other night when we won the conference title, we saw that in the faces of our players and coaches, our family and our fans and our franchise and city - it just seemed to, at least to me, represent everything I ever wanted when I came to Nashville," Poile said. "We're going to play hockey in June. That's fantastic."