Reassigned Gardner may leave Predators

Wednesday, April 16, 2003 at 1:00am

The meeting was short, but definitely not sweet.

Bittersweet, maybe, as Nashville Predators assistant coach Paul Gardner was informed by GM David Poile Tuesday morning that he would be offered a reassignment as a pro scout.

The association between Poile and Gardner goes back to 1990, when Poile, then the general manager for the Washington Capitals, hired Gardner as a pro scout.

"It was very difficult talking to David," said Gardner, who has been associated with the Predators for six years, five behind the bench. "It was a short meeting. I absorbed what he had to say and left. I wanted to hold my emotions. That's something I always try to do. We'll talk later.

"David has to make some decisions in his job based on gut feelings. In the past, some of those gut feelings were to keep me. This time it was to let me go."

According to Gardner, he might consider the pro scouting position with the Predators. But talking only hours after receiving the news of the reassignment, he admitted it was too early to really think about anything for the future.

"I'll sit down and talk with my wife Sherri and my family," Gardner said. "I want to stay in hockey. I still believe I have a lot to offer."

When asked about his decision, Poile simply stated there was a need for a change. Gardner said that was all he was told as well.

"I had sensed for a few days that something might happen," Gardner said. "I had a feeling that something was going on. I have pretty good senses, but you are never ready for something like this. I'm very disappointed."

Gardner has relocated many times in his life, and if he accepts the reassignment, another move would be required. He stressed it would be tough to leave Nashville, and even tougher to leave the Predators if he chooses another career path.

"I'm very proud of this organization," Gardner said. "I persuaded my mother to bury my father Cal [a former NHL player] in a Predators jersey. That's how much the organization means to me."

Poile was hesitant to say much more than "a change was needed", but he did state that he had talked with players during exit interviews and considered their input. The decision to offer Gardner the reassignment was made by Poile without consultation from head coach Barry Trotz and assistant coach Brent Peterson.

Poile will consult with Trotz and Peterson concerning a replacement for Gardner. Gardner and Trotz had been together for four seasons in Portland, Maine with the Pirates of the American Hockey League, the Capitals top affiliate. Before that, they worked together with the Baltimore Skipjacks.

Trotz wasn't surprised that Poile did not ask him for any input. And he wasn't shocked that Poile felt there are changes to be made in the organization.

"We have a long history together," Trotz said. "I hope Paul has learned as much from me as I have from him in our years together. A lot of the success I've had is directly related to my coaching partnership with Paul."

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