On Tuesday, Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations and General Manager David Poile was named as one of three finalists for the National Hockey League’s General Manager of the Year award. The award has been in existence for only three seasons, and Poile is the only GM to have been tapped for consideration all three times. He hasn’t won—yet.
In typical modest fashion, Poile spread the honor among team ownership and members of his hockey operations department while talking with media Tuesday morning.
“I’ve got a few emails already from my scouting staff,” he said while listing those who surround and support his work on a daily basis. “I keep telling them the same thing: You keep drafting those good players and I’ll keep getting nominated for this award. They’ve done a great job. Whenever I have a chance I always applaud them because that has been a foundation of our team.”
Poile is clearly deserving of his third straight nomination, given his redefinition of the Predators last summer and his bold acquisitions prior to the trade deadline. Beyond the accolade, though, it became obvious during Poile’s chat with the media just how vital he is to the Predators organization and the hockey world at large. He’s the son of National Hockey League player and executive Bud Poile—an NHL Hall of Famer in the Builders division—and his hockey knowledge runs at least as deep as his hockey roots. Like his father, he is more than a mover of pieces—a hockey chessmaster, if you will. He’s a builder of teams, of relationships and of a larger hockey tradition.
When answering a question about his fellow award nominees Dale Tallon (Florida Panthers) and Doug Armstrong (St. Louis Blues), Poile praised their work while revealing long-lasting connections with his peers.
“Dale’s taken a team that was basically off the map, that [people] didn’t like his chances for his franchise surviving let alone his team, and he’s now got a chance with a win tonight to get into the second round of the playoffs,” Poile said. “[He] was my roommate in my only training camp I ever went to, as a Vancouver Canuck, when he was a first-round pick. I was there for a week. He was there for like 10 years.”
“Doug Armstrong used to work for me in Washington,” Poile continued. “[I] hired him coming out of college. He worked in the sales department in Washington and eventually got a job in Dallas and got promoted.”
And later when turning his attention to Nashville’s second-round meeting with the Phoenix Coyotes, Poile’s analysis again revealed a personal story.
“We know what their strengths are,” he said of the Coyotes. “I don’t really think that they have any weaknesses. Their coach is very structured. That’s how he played as a defensive player—Dave Tippett, also a former player of mine in Washington. They know exactly how he wants to play. They don’t take a lot of chances. They certainly rely on their defense and fabulous goaltending this year.”
Possessing a wealth of personal connections and an acute hockey mind, Poile plays a role for the Nashville Predators organization that is much larger than the title “general manager” would indicate. His influence upon hockey is greater than one could measure with an award. Still, Poile politely and proudly accepts the recognition from his peers and continues to enjoy the story he’s helping to write in the hockey history books.
“The only job I’ve ever had has been in hockey,” he said. “I think I’m pretty focused on that. It’s a special job. There’s only 30 of them in the world so I’m very respectful of that and very appreciative that I’ve had this many years to be a manager. Hockey’s been good to me. Hopefully I’ve put in my effort to get us there.”