Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile has done this a few times.
Entering what he estimates to be his 44th consecutive training camp with a NHL franchise, including 18 at the helm in Nashville, it never gets old for the only GM the Preds have ever known.
“I’m excited, nervous; it’s unbelievable after this many years to still be fired up about this,” Poile said of the start of training camp. “This is always a great day… My message this year is pretty much that it’s a new year, and every time you have a new year, you have a new opportunity.”
The on-ice start of that opportunity comes Friday when the Predators hit the ice for the first time as a group – coaches and players alike – in pursuit of the ultimate prize, just like 29 other teams across the NHL.
Sure, the Predators wish things would’ve turned out differently last season after falling in the opening round of the postseason to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, but the beginning of camp always yields optimism, along with the awareness that in the Western Conference and the Central Division, there are no guarantees.
“It’s the start of a new season and it’s exciting, but you don’t really know what to expect,” Captain Shea Weber said. “We built ourselves up better last year compared to the years prior, we’ve just got to keep building on that. We can’t sit back and dwell on what we did last year. There’s teams that are hungry to get back in the playoffs as well.”
“We had a great regular season last year and hopefully we can do the same thing this year,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “We have to get better this year and we have to take the next step. It’s such a tough division and tough conference and every year is a battle to make it in the playoffs, so we’ve got to get off to a good start.”
Even though the Preds know nothing comes easily, they also feel they’ve got as good of a chance as anyone to compete for the Cup, courtesy of the relative calm in personnel changes over the summer.
“Last year we made a lot of steps toward the Stanley Cup and that goal ahead, but I’m just excited about this team,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “All the younger guys are another year older and more experienced, and [we have] the same core group and a couple of veteran players added. I’m pretty happy about this team… I think it’s going to be a really good team.”
There’s a long way to go until this season’s club writes their page in the record books, whatever that may be, but it has to start somewhere. And for the man who has done this a few times, the transcription has all the potential to rival the best the club has ever seen.
“I liked our team last year and I like our team this year,” Poile said. “I think there’s a lot of good teams, and the good news is, I think we’re one of those good teams.”