General managers know that statistics don’t necessarily tell the entire story.
That’s what Nashville’s David Poile believes, at least, and understandably so. The majority of his team’s hopes to bring home one of the National Hockey League’s individual awards Wednesday rests with the league’s other GMs.
All of the league’s individual honors for the 2011-12 season will be handed out at the NHL Awards Show (6 p.m., NBC Sports Network).
“The voting done by the GM’s – they all know what we go through and what it takes to put a team together, he said. “… So we probably have a little bit different knowledge in their voting versus other people’s voting.”
Poile is a finalist for the General Manager of the Year and goalie Pekka Rinne is up for the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the top netminder. Both awards are determined by voting primarily among the league’s 30 general managers (the GM award voters also include five NHL executives and five media members).
Defenseman Shea Weber is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, which is given to the top all-round defenseman. Select members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association vote on that award.
Finally, center Mike Fisher is up for the NHL Foundation Award, which recognizes community service. A panel led by league executives, including commissioner Gary Bettman, vote on that award.
Poile said he views Weber, a second-time finalist, as the most likely winner among the Nashville contingent.
“He was really close last year and played about as good this year,” Poile said. “That’s not to say that the other two candidates didn’t play well. Maybe it’s a personal hunch, I don’t know. … I think he was the best in the league this year.
“All three candidates are fabulous. … I just feel that this is his year.”
Poile is a finalist for the third time – and this is just the third time the award has been presented. No one else has been a finalist more than once, yet for him to win he’ll need his peers to have looked beyond the numbers.
His competition is St. Louis Doug Armstrong and Florida’s Dale Tallon, each of whom guided their teams to an improvement of 22 points over the previous season.
“The other two teams probably had the most improvement of any teams in the league,” Poile said. “To my mind, they’re probably being recognized for that.”
Poile’s Predators scored just five points more than the previous year.
He did, however, make over parts of the team – particularly at forward – during the offseason in the wake of its best playoff run up to that time. Then he added to the roster with some notable moves at, or near the trade deadline.
“We made some hard decisions,” he said. “We took a couple big steps backward where we maybe didn’t have to do that. Those were big decisions to make as a team and there’s a lot of people that – on and off the ice – didn’t believe that we were very good. With good coaching, fabulous goaltending, that type of thing, we got through that.
“When the owners give you the green light to do some things we were able to pull some things off at the trading deadline and that was exciting for everybody – on ice, off the ice. I think we all thought we had a legitimate chance to compete and to win the Stanley Cup.”
In other words, the team got a lot better – not from one season to the next but from the start of the season to the finish.
“So I guess I was able to do my job to the fullest extent,” Poile said. “That was good for me and it was good for everybody in the organization.”
But was it good enough for him finally to win?