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One-on-One with... David Poile on the Olympic Experience

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
After being named Associate General Manager for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics, sat down with David Poile to discuss his role with Team USA, the upcoming Olympics, and the upcoming schedule over the next year and a half. Congratulations on the appointment to Team USA’s management team.
David Poile: It definitely is an honor. I've been in hockey for a long time at the NHL level. And I've worked with USA Hockey on the World Championships, but I've never been involved with the Olympics. I just think it's a wonderful opportunity and I really look forward to working with Brian Burke (named Team USA's General Manager) and the other staff that we assemble and the best United States players in what I really feel is a great opportunity to compete for a Gold Medal. Have you and Brian Burke discussed your role with Team USA?
DP: The last two years USA Hockey has appointed a committee of four General Managers -- Brian Burke, Don Waddell of Atlanta, Ray Shero of Pittsburgh, and myself -- who have co-managed, along with Jim Johannson of USA Hockey, the World Championships for Team USA. And we've had various meetings and conference calls in putting together the team and the staff and the coaching staff. So I think the relationships are already there. What we need to do in this case, is Brian and I need to get together this off-season to sit down and just go over exactly who is doing what; what responsibilities and duties each person has so that we can make this a successful venture. How important is the next season and half going to be in the selection process?
DP: It's going to be extremely important. We've identified a roster of US players who are a potential to play in the Olympics. Some of these players have played in the past couple of World Championships; some of them have not been available because their teams have been playing in the NHL playoffs; some are up-and-coming players that we really need to pay closer attention to in this next year and a half to see if they are legitimate candidates for the team. Again, I think it gets back to your philosophy of how you want to build a team. You just can't take the 20 so-called "best players." In putting together a team you need somebody who is really good in taking faceoffs, you need somebody who is good on the power-play, somebody who is good at penalty killing. That's what it really comes down to when building the team. These are the things we need to get organized on this summer we can put in the proper scouting that is necessary to identify these player so we can bring this team together. What’s it going to be like to work with Brian Burke?
DP: I've worked with and known Brian for a lot of years in a lot of situations. I worked with him when he was an agent, when he was an assistant manager, when he was with the league offices, then as a General Manager. Brian's obviously had as much success as anybody has had in the last several years as a GM. He's a very passionate guy about hockey and more specifically USA Hockey, so it should be fun. Is there any more excitement to the Olympic experience with the games being held in North America in 2010?
DP: I think that’s sort of an added added bonus to play in North America because of the exposure, the opportunity for more coverage, specifically in the United States. I’m always thinking and hoping that lightning can strike for a third time; 1960, 1980, and how about 2010 in Vancouver. Because there’s no doubt that the 1980 Miracle on Ice US win at Lake Placid was probably the biggest single exposure that hockey’s ever had in the United States. It probably was the start to expansion in the NHL and probably one of the reasons why we’re in Nashville today. How is the job different with the Olympic Team than it is with the World Championships?
DP: For a couple of obvious reasons, the Olympics is probably next to the Stanley Cup is probably the most important trophy/medal you can win. And number two, it is going to be the best players in the world for each country playing against each other, where as the World Championships is very good, but is limited a bit because the NHL is still playing its playoffs. Because of that you don’t always get all of the best players. The next step in the process is probably to name a coach. Have you guys started to narrow down a list of candidates yet?
DP: No. This is what we have to do in the summer, from a staffing standpoint, we have to identify who the coaching candidates are, the training staff, all of the rest of the staff. All of the logistics are going to be important to put together and make sure that’s all put together. Does participating in past World Championships help a player’s or coach’s chances for the Olympic Team?
DP: Certainly. I think it’s the exposure you get with international hockey, which is a little different than the NHL. Familiarity certainly, I think, gives you better and more knowledge as to a player’s skill level, character, how he fits in different team situations. You’re always going to gravitate toward who you know vs. who you don’t know. On a similar line, from a local perspective, does your position give any Predators players or staff members an added advantage for the Olympic team?
DP: Quite simply, we want to chose the best team to play for the US, so we can compete for the Gold Medal. I am very hopeful. I’m certainly going to be talking to our players that should be considered for this. I’m going to tell them that they should do everything they can to get on to that team. In the best of all worlds, it would be nice if Brian Burke, for example, recommended our players. And that’s easily done just by going out and having a great season next year.”

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