President of Hockey Operations/General Manager and Alternate Governor
The only man to be a finalist for the General Manager of the Year Award for each of its first three years of the award’s existence (2010, 2011 and 2012), Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile has been a top voice in the National Hockey League for 30 years (15 with Washington, 15 with Nashville), tied for the third longest tenure in NHL history, and second in consecutive active seasons as a GM to the New York Rangers’ Glen Sather (32 years). He is the only general manager in NHL history to be at the helm of two different clubs for 1,000 games and 500 victories, attaining both marks in 2011-12. First the 1,000-game mark on Nov. 12, 2011, then the 500-win plateau on March 30, 2012.
Poile enters the 2012-13 campaign ranked second all-time in games (2,246) by a general manager – trailing only Sather (2,488) – and third in wins (1,097) behind Sather (1,195) and longtime Boston Bruins executive Harry Sinden (1,170). On March 21, 2010 at St. Louis, he picked up his 1,000th win as a general manager in a 3-2 Predators victory.
As the architect of a club built on speed, skill and steadfast work ethic, Poile’s philosophy of building through home-grown talent and effective drafting continued to pay dividends in 2011-12 as the Predators were the only Western Conference team to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season, this after becoming one of just five teams to make the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and one of three to reach the 40-win mark in each of the last seven seasons.
In total, a franchise-record 22 draft picks suited up for Nashville during the 2011-12 campaign – three more than in 2010-11 – and 15 of the 24 players to dress for Nashville during the 2012 Playoffs were selected and developed by the franchise. The Predators are built around a pair of homegrown products in back-to-back Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne in goal – who Poile signed to the largest contract in franchise history in November 2011 – and back-to-back Norris Trophy runner-up Shea Weber. The two longest tenured Predators – David Legwand (1998) and Martin Erat (1999) paced the club’s offense, while Patric Hornqvist – the final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall) – became the first Predator draftee to record three consecutive 20-goal seasons for the team in 2011-12. Craig Smith (2009) supplemented the forward corps with one of the top seasons by a rookie in franchise history, while talented young talent Nick Spaling (2007), Colin Wilson (2008) and Gabriel Bourque (2009) also showed the future is bright. Joining Weber on the blue line were fellow 2003 draftee Kevin Klein, in addition to promising rookies Ryan Ellis (2009), Roman Josi (2008) and Jonathon Blum (2007).
A year after supplementing the drafted talent with the likes of Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn via trade, Poile was among the busiest GMs in the business in 2011-12, transforming the Predators from a team that was tied for the youngest team in the league in October, to a veteran club picked by many as a favorite to go all the way. Nashville’s 2012 playoff roster included eight players who were not with the club to start the season, including trade deadline acquisitions Andrei Kostitsyn, Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad, which addressed the Predators needs of skill, size and playoff experience. One month after the deadline, Poile saw nearly four years of work come to fruition when Alexander Radulov – known as the best player outside the NHL – return to the Predators for the stretch drive and postseason.
Poile’s third straight GM of the Year nomination in 2011-12 came after the team finished with a 48-26-8 record (104 points), the third-best record in the Western Conference, fifth-best in the NHL, and good for home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2011-12 edition of the Predators were one of only four teams to finish in the Top 10 in both goals for (eighth) and goals against (eighth), and one of three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both power-play percentage (first) and penalty kill percentage (10th). In 2010-11, Nashville earned the fifth seed in the Western Conference (99 points) and gave up the third-fewest goals in the League (190) despite missing nearly 350 man-games due to injury, and in 2009-10, Poile constructed a team that was one of 11 to hit the 100-point mark, despite having a payroll ranked 28th in the League, to earn a spot as a finalist for the inaugural General Manager of the Year Award.
Under Poile’s direction, the Predators have been one of the top teams in the NHL since evolving from an expansion team in the early 2000s, to a bona fide contender. Since the start of 2005-06, Nashville’s 320 wins ranks fifth-best in the league, while 181 home victories puts them third in the NHL.
The aggressive team-building plan implemented by Poile from the franchise’s inception has helped the organization earn the reputation as one of the most stable, well-built teams in the NHL. Crucial to the plan’s success is the ability to make the right selections and develop the young prospects. Poile has assembled a bright staff of personnel charged with those responsibilities, including assistant general manager Paul Fenton, chief amateur scout Jeff Kealty, and a coaching staff led by Barry Trotz.
Poile has long been a proponent of a strong developmental system as a means to develop blossoming young players into productive NHL players. The Predators’ primary developmental affiliate, the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, captured the first Calder Cup Championship in franchise history in 2004 and revisited the Calder Cup Finals in 2006. They made their 10th consecutive trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs in 2012, making them one of two franchises (Connecticut/Hartford) to attain the feat. Milwaukee has won four division titles in the past nine seasons and became the first team in AHL history to post 40-or-more wins and 90-or-more points in eight consecutive seasons from 2002-03 to 2010-11, each season with a team predominately made up of Predators prospects.
Poile’s wisdom and experience is clearly valued throughout the hockey world. He was associate general manager for the 2010 United States Olympic Team, and helped select the team that would become one of the headline stories of the 2010 Games, capturing the hearts of a nation en route to a silver medal. He was a member of the U.S. National Team Advisory Group for the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships after serving as associate GM for the U.S.’s entries into the 2009 and 2010 editions of the tournament, and as general manager at the 1998 and 1999 Worlds.
He was also selected as one of four NHL general managers to sit on the first NHL competition committee in 2005. The steering body formulates and recommends rule changes for approval by the NHL Board of Governors. In this role, he helped usher in the new era of NHL hockey – featuring on-ice innovations such as the regular-season shootout and the elimination of the red line – while at the same time drawing upon the wealth of experience accumulated through his many years in the game. The Competition Committee continues to be one of the most influential bodies in the game today.
In 2006-07, when Poile was recognized by The Sporting News as its Executive of the Year, an honor he had received twice previously (1982-83 and 1983-84) and which is determined through a vote of his peers, after the Predators finished the season with the second-most points in the Western Conference and tied for the third-most points in the entire National Hockey League. The Predators established franchise records in points (110), wins (51), road wins (23) and goals (272) during the campaign. Locally, Business TN magazine honored him as the magazine’s “CEO of the Year” for 2006 based on his consistent and successful track record as the team’s architect.
In 2001, Poile was a recipient of the Lester Patrick Award in recognition of contributions to hockey in the United States. Poile has devoted his professional career to hockey and the NHL, particularly in non-traditional markets. His late father, Bud Poile, also a recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (1989) and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (1990), served as general manager of two expansion franchises – first in Philadelphia (1967) and then in Vancouver (1970). David Poile began his professional career as an administrative assistant with the Atlanta Flames expansion franchise in 1972 and spent 10 years with the organization before being named general manager of the Washington Capitals in 1982. The 2012-13 campaign will mark his 40th in NHL.
For the 1982-83 season, Poile took the reins of a Washington team that had never made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In his 15 years there, the Capitals advanced to the postseason 14 times. The 1997-98 Capitals, largely comprised of players Poile acquired, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. During his 15-year tenure, the Caps compiled a record of 596-454-124 (.559), ranking among the NHL's top-five teams during that span.
Poile was instrumental in the league's adoption of the instant replay rule in 1991. He was awarded Inside Hockey's Man of the Year award for his leadership on the issue.
A graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Poile was hockey team captain, leading scorer and most valuable player for two years, earning a place in the University's Hall of Fame.
Poile also serves as an alternate governor for the team and in December 2007, he added President of Hockey Operations to his title for the first time in his career. For the past two seasons, Poile has donated to Operation Homefront (which provides emergency assistance and morale to our U.S. Troops), USA Hockey and the Peterson for Parkinson’s Foundation for every Predators victory.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Nashville. The Poiles have two children – daughter Lauren and son Brian – who was named the Predators Director of Hockey Operations in July 2010 – and two granddaughters – Ellie and Charlotte.
Longest tenured general managers:
|Jack Adams||DET||35||1927-28 to 1961-62|
|Glen Sather||EDM, NYR||31||1980-81 to 2010-11|
|David Poile||WSH, NSH||30||1982-83 to 2011-12|
|Conn Smythe||TOR||30||1927-28 to 1956-57|
|Art Ross||BOS||30||1924-25 to 1953-54|