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One-on-One with: GM David Poile

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Predators General Manager David Poile, the Associate General Manager for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics, just returned to Nashville from USA Hockey’s Olympic Orientation in Chicago. sat down with Poile to talk about the camp, Team USA’s progress, and which Preds are positioned to play in the 2010 Olympics.
What were the goals for the Olympic Orientation? How did the orientation go?
David Poile: Great, great experience to be involved in it. It’s always a terrific experience to work with some of the best players in the world. Everyone was very excited. You can tell this was not only an honor, but a dream and a goal of all of us; whether it be a manager, player, coach, or anyone else involved in the Olympic team. There’s no motivation problem – every body was so excited to be there. It was an Orientation Camp and we accomplished that; it was an Orientation for the players both on the ice – a few practices with the coaches – and it was a get-together, team bonding thing off the ice with a few team dinners. In addition to that there’s a lot of paperwork that needed to be done, be it with the Olympic program or sizing for uniforms with Nike or some of the other things that come with being an Olympic athlete. We went over the geography of the Vancouver set up – the Olympic Village, where the athletes would be saying, where the games will be played, all of those types of things. There were a lot of logistics. For a four-day session we got a lot done. Is the final Olympic roster for Vancouver likely to come from the 34 players that were just in Chicago?
Poile: I would hope that we got it right with the players that we invited to Chicago. But having said that, there are certainly some players who couldn’t be there either for an injury or because we didn’t feel they were one of the top 34 players. Just having been invited to that camp doesn’t mean you are on the Olympic team. We are open minded to any US players who play well in October or November before we make the decisions. The decisions don’t have to be made until approximately the end of December. Who knows there are always situations? It could be a veteran player like a Keith Tkachuk who has previous Olympic experience. Or a younger player that hasn’t had a lot of recognition yet; maybe our own, Colin Wilson, for example. At the end of the day we’re going to take the best 23 players. Ryan Suter was one of the 34 players at the Orientation. What are Suter’s chances to make the final Olympic roster? Has he helped his chances at any of the USA Hockey events this summer?
Poile: I think Ryan’s chances are really good. He came on strong last year for the Predators; had his best season and improved in every facet of the game. The fact that he played for the United States in the World Championships this spring under Brian Burke, myself, Ron Wilson, who is the head coach. Brian and Ron got a good chance to see him day-to-day and I think they are very comfortable with Ryan. As long as he continues to perform at the level he did last year, hopefully a bit better, I think his chances are excellent to make the Olympic team. How is the US team stacking up for this year’s Olympics?
Poile: I know the US is going to be an underdog. When you look at teams like Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden, they are clearly going to be more veteran teams and the favorites. The US is going to have a very young, inexperienced team, maybe not unlike the 1980 team of unknown players – at least at this level of international play. At this camp we only had five players who had played in the Olympics before, so it’s certainly an underdog situation, but that’s what America is all about – the underdog situation and grasping the challenge. We talked a lot about 1980 and how great it was for the players, their friends, their family, the game of hockey, and the United States. So hopefully we can create a little bit of our own history. What other Preds players have a chance to make the Olympic tournament?
Poile: Our goalie Pekka Rinne is definitely a candidate for the Finnish Team. On defense Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber are the Canadian tryout camp this week. Martin Erat has been selected as one of the players in the pool for the Czech team. I would think Roman Josi from Switzerland could be on their team. Alexander Radulov could be playing on the Russian team. And Robert Dietrich, one of our defensemen in Milwaukee last year, and Alexander Sulzer, who will play for the Predators this season, I think they both have a good chance to be on Germany’s Olympic team. Just this week we signed Marcel Goc, who played for Germany four year ago in Torino and I think has a very good chance to be on the team again this time.

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