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GM Poile Helps Select NHL's 100 Greatest Players

Preds GM Earns Highest Selection Rate on Committee with 88 out of 100

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

There aren't many who know more about the game of hockey than the man who has been at the helm of the Nashville Predators from the very beginning.

So when the NHL decided to undergo the monstrous task of naming the 100 greatest players of all time to coincide with their Centennial Celebration, it was a no-brainer to include David Poile in the decision-making process.

But even for Poile - someone who is in his 35th season as an NHL general manager and whose father was a player, coach and general manager in the League - it was much more than a weekend task.

"It was very hard to do, very hard," Poile said. "Making the distinction between someone that should be on the list versus someone that shouldn't be on the list. It was very subjective decision - which I hope, along with the other people that participated in this, that collectively, we got most of these the same."

Poile was one of 58 members of the selection committee, comprised of owners, executives, general managers, former coaches and players, as well as media members who all cast their votes to name the 100 greatest players in League history. And out of all who had a say, Poile finished with the highest percentage of anyone, correctly including 88 of the final 100 players on his original list.

The first 33 players on the list, who primarily played from 1917 to 1966, were announced on Jan. 1 at the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic, and the remaining 67 will be revealed on Friday in Los Angeles with The NHL100, a primetime event to kick off the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend festivities.

For Poile, narrowing an enormous field down to just 100 necessitated a few ground rules. First, he used memories from his father and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Bud, recalling discussions of players who had skated in the first 50 years of the League's history. There was also plenty of statistical analysis, as well as the consideration of how the game has changed over time - meaning Wayne Gretzky's 200-point seasons in the 1980s would likely be the equivalent to a 100-point season in today's game.

"It's really hard to compare era to era, and I really didn't want to do that because the game is changing in so many ways," Poile said. "Players are bigger, stronger, faster, conditions are probably better, travel is better, the goaltending styles are different, sticks used to be wood, now they're all composite sticks. So I just tried to read as much as I could and get as many statistical things in front of me of players in the first 50 years versus the last 50 years."

Even then, Poile had plenty of candidates on his list - well over 100 - that in his belief, could have made the final register.

"In my mind, if you were the best player in 1950, you should be in the Top 100; if you're the best player in 2015, you should be in the Top 100," Poile said. "I feel there's probably 200 to 250 people that could be on the Top 100 list."

But once all the facts were taken into account, Poile finalized his list, sending it away to combine with the other 57 entries to compile into what will be the definitive tally of the greatest to ever play the game.

"I'm a general manager, but I thought it was a neat experience as a fan, just looking at all the various and different names," Poile said. "As much as I thought I knew, I really didn't know that this player had played this many years or this many games or scored this many goals or had been on this many Stanley Cup teams.

"I just thought it was a great process. It was an honor to be selected to do this and I can't wait to see the list."

Fans can see the reveal of The NHL100 on Friday night, hosted by Jon Hamm, live from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m. CT on NBCSN.

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