David Poile insists that his work with the United States national team does not take away from his role as Nashville Predators’ general manager. Not much, at least.
“The Nashville Predators is 99 percent of the time my primary focus,” he said. “With the national team, I work as part of a committee that makes decisions.”
Obviously, his work with the Predators has not suffered.
Thursday, on the eve of the 2010 IIHF World Championships, at which Poile once again will serve as assistant general manager for Team USA, he was named one of three finalists for the National Hockey League’s inaugural General Manager of the Year Award.
Voting was conducted among the league’s 30 general managers.
The top three – Poile, Don Maloney of Phoenix and George McPhee of Washington – were considered finalists. All three were in charge of teams that made the playoffs in 2009-10 but lost in the opening round.
The winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.
Poile, the only GM in franchise history, became the second Nashville official recognized for the team’s performance this season. Last week coach Barry Trotz was named one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the top coach in the league.
More than half of the Predators’ lineup this season was drafted and developed by the organization. Two critical players, goalie Pekka Rinne and leading goal scorer Patric Hornqvist, were taken late in their respective drafts.
Hornqvist was chosen with the last overall pick in 2005, and his play in consecutive World Championships – two goals, four assists in 2007 and six goals in nine games in 2008 – helped convince the team to sign him and bring him to North America for the 2008-09 season.
Defenseman Karlis Skrastins was drafted as a 24-year-old in 1998 after Poile and other team officials saw him play in the World Championships. Two years later, forward Vladimir Orszagh was signed for similar reasons. Skrastins and Orszagh each quickly became contributors in the NHL.
“Being at the World Championships has been good for me and good for our organization,” Poile said. “It’s allowed me to see different players and to get to know people from other organizations.”
Poile was named to USA Hockey’s advisory group in Feb., 2007 and has helped select players for the country’s last four entries into the World Championships. He also was assistant general manager for the 2010 Olympic team, which won the silver medal, and previously served as general manager for the 1998 and 1999 World Championships entries.
He won’t be the only one watching when the United States begins pool play Friday against Germany, the host nation. A full house of 76,152 is expected at Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen and will break the record of 74,554 (Michigan State versus Michigan in 2001) for the largest crowd ever at a hockey game.