Feb 28, 2023 - Sports

Preds turn the page as Poile retires

David Poile. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Barely two weeks passed in the summer of 1997 between the NHL granting Nashville a franchise and the team's original owner hiring David Poile to run the hockey operation. That's how important Poile has been to the Nashville Predators.

Driving the news: Poile is retiring from his post as Predators general manager and will be replaced by former coach Barry Trotz in July.

Why it matters: From building a team from scratch in the late 1990s to constructing a roster that has come within an eyelash of the Stanley Cup, Poile has been a constant for the Predators.

  • He brought stability to the hockey operations even when the business side of the Predators languished and the team seemed to be on the brink of leaving town.

Context: In 2007, the Predators nearly were sold to a Canadian billionaire who intended to move the team out of Nashville.

  • A local ownership group intervened and purchased the team, keeping the Preds in Music City. But it took a tumultuous few years before the business operation stabilized.
  • Poile's reliability ensured the hockey team was in good hands and whoever ran the ownership group — from Craig Leipold to David Freeman to Tom Cigarran to Herb Fritch — put their faith in Poile.

What they're saying: At a press conference Monday, Predators CEO Sean Henry said Poile's retirement has been about three years in the making. He said Poile wanted to modernize the hockey operation, including the scouting and player development departments, before stepping aside.

  • Henry called Poile a future Hall of Famer. "We're the envy of every other sports city in America because of what we do," Henry said.
  • "When I came here 26 years ago, I had a goal of transforming this nontraditional hockey market into a hockey community," Poile said, adding his plan was to build the team through drafting and development. "Today, Smashville has one of the most passionate fan bases."

By the numbers: The Predators reached the postseason 15 times out of 24 seasons under Poile. Their playoff record is 54-71.

What's next: By hiring Trotz, the Predators are turning to a familiar face. He was the team's coach for 15 seasons and more recently served as a consultant for Poile.

  • Trotz will take the helm this offseason armed with a treasure trove of draft capital in the coming years thanks to a blockbuster trade engineered by Poile on his way out the door. He sent Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for five future draft picks.

What we're watching: Poile said a "new vision" was needed for the Predators.

  • The team is in 10th place in the Western Conference and six points out of the final playoff spot. Moves such as trading Jeannot show the franchise is focusing on the long term and not a run at the playoffs this season.
  • Trotz is the team's all-time winningest coach.
  • "We're in a 'now' business, but it's always important to plan for the future," Poile said.

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