President of Hockey Operations/General Manager and Alternate Governor
The General Manager with the longest active tenure, and the third-longest tenured GM in National Hockey League history, Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile has spent 33 consecutive years at the helm of a franchise (18 with Nashville, 15 with Washington) dating back to Aug. 30, 1982 when he was hired by the Washington Capitals. 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, and on Dec. 16, 2014 against Boston won his 1,171st game as an NHL GM to pass Harry Sinden and move into second place in wins by a GM. He enters 2015-16 ranked second all-time in both games (2,458) and wins (1,198) by a general manager, trailing only Glen Sather (2,700 games, 1,319 wins).
The lone person to be a finalist for the General Manager of the Year Award for each of its first three years of existence (2010, 2011 and 2012) and the sixth-place finisher in 2015, Poile is one of the most influential men in the sport, evidenced by his spot on the NHL’s Competition Committee all 11 years of existence, appointment to the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee in 2014, and involvement with USA Hockey, highlighted by his service as General Manager of the United States Olympic Team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
While Poile continues to use effective drafting and development of home-grown players as the foundation for the Nashville Predators, his blueprint for success has necessitated the welcoming of high-octane offensive performers to the organization in recent seasons. Dating back to the 2013 Trade Deadline, Poile and his staff have been aggressive in acquiring young, talented prospects with high offensive ceilings, and proven NHL stars via trade and free agency to supplement Nashville’s drafted talent. This formula helped the Predators return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2014-15, reaching first place in the Western Conference in each of the season’s five full months (November-March), and holding the NHL’s top point percentage at the midpoint of the regular season, placing the organization’s coaching staff in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Poile has been among the busiest GMs on the free-agent market the past three summers, signing eight forwards, two defensemen and a goalie to NHL contracts during the opening two weeks of free agency. After seeing great success with the low-risk, high-reward contract given to forward Mike Ribeiro in July 2014, Poile stuck with the trend on July 1, 2015, inking Cody Hodgson – just two seasons removed from a 20-goal, 44-point campaign – to a one-year deal, while also adding grit and experience in defenseman Barret Jackman.
In the trade department, Poile’s two biggest deals came on the draft floor of the 2014 Entry Draft when he acquired former 40-goal scorer and 2012 NHL First-Team All-Star James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and on April 3, 2013, when he traded for emerging superstar Filip Forsberg – the team leader in points in 2014-15 – from Washington. Forsberg, selected 11th overall in the 2012 Entry Draft, was rated the third-best player by Poile’s staff, but slipped due to a run of defensemen being drafted.
Despite the recent influx of players from the outside, the Predators are built around home-grown products starting in net with three-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, and on the blue line with Captain Shea Weber – who has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy three of the past four years – and partner Roman Josi – who finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting while recording the second-most points by a defenseman in franchise history (15g-40a-55pts) in 2014-15. Rounding out one of the deepest blue line corps in the League are Seth Jones, the fourth overall selection in the 2013 Entry Draft and a blossoming star, a pair of 2009 draftees in Ryan Ellis (first round) and Mattias Ekholm (fourth round), as well as Jackman and Victor Bartley, who had never played an NHL game prior to signing with Nashville.
Helping anchor the forward corps are back-to-back 20-goal scorer and former 50-point producer Craig Smith (fourth round in 2009), Colin Wilson (first round in 2008), who posted a career-high 20 goals and 42 points in 2014-15, as well as Gabriel Bourque (fifth round in 2009). Of the 34 players used by Nashville in 2014-15, 21 were either drafted by the club, or made their NHL debuts with the Preds.
The assertive 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, Director of Hockey Operations Brian Poile, and a team of gifted professional and amateur scouts across North America and Europe.
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 Final in 2006. They have advanced to the Calder Cup Playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons, winning four division titles in that span. The Admirals also 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, as evidenced by his selection to the post of General Manager of the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2014 Sochi Games. 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. Poile was a member of the U.S. National Team Advisory Group for the third consecutive International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in 2014, and also served as associate GM for the American entries into the 2009 and 2010 editions of the tournament, and as general manager at the 1998 and 1999 Worlds.
Since its establishment in 2005, Poile has helped guide the NHL Competition Committee, making him one of just two individuals to sit on the committee all 10 seasons of its existence. The steering body that formulates and recommends rule changes for approval by the NHL Board of Governors, the Competition Committee continues to be one of the most influential bodies in the game today having helped usher in innovations featuring on-ice innovations such as the regular-season shootout, hybrid icing and the grandfathering of visors. In March 2014, Poile received yet another prestigious honor by being appointed to the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee, and helped mold the Hall of Fame’s 61st group of inductees in June 2014 which included players Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano; coach Pat Burns in the Builders Category; and Bill McCreary in the Referee and Linesman Category.
Poile’s third straight General Manager 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. In 2010-11, he was a finalist for the award after 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, he constructed a team that was one of 11 to hit the 100-point mark despite having a payroll ranked 28th in the League, earning a spot as a finalist for the inaugural General Manager of the Year Award.
In 2006-07, 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), 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 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 2015-16 campaign will mark his 43rd 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 Final. During his 15-year tenure, the Caps compiled a record of 594-454-132 (.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. In June 2014, he received an honorary doctorate degree from American Sentinel University.
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 past four seasons, Poile has donated to Operation Homefront (which provides emergency assistance and morale programs 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 – and two granddaughters – Ellie and Charlotte.
Longest tenured general managers:
|Jack Adams||DET||35||1927-28 to 1961-62|
|Glen Sather||EDM, NYR||34||1980-81 to 2013-14|
|David Poile||WSH, NSH||33||1982-83 to 2014-15|
|Conn Smythe||TOR||30||1927-28 to 1956-57|
|Art Ross||BOS||30||1924-25 to 1953-54|