What began as an inconvenience has developed into a legitimate problem for Nashville Predators and Team USA general manager David Poile, as he will be forced to stay stateside for the Olympic hockey tournament after a fluke accident.
Poile was struck by an errant puck during the Predators’ morning skate last Thursday, suffering a broken eye socket in addition to other facial injuries. After initially hoping to fly to Sochi sometime this week, Poile confirmed through USA Hockey that he will be unable to join the team he helped construct.
While Poile recuperates at home in Tennessee, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero will assume his duties in Russia. Shero served under Poile in Nashville before getting the Penguins’ head job in 2006, so we can assume he’s quite familiar with Poile’s way of thinking.
In a way, this adjustment is strictly ceremonial. Unlike in the NHL, the short Olympic tournament offers little opportunity for personnel managers to make a difference once the team is picked. Barring the need for a late injury replacement, it’s up to the coaches and players at this point.
Despite the challenge of long distance, USA Hockey indicated that Poile will still be involved in making decisions throughout the tournament. Team USA plays its first of three round-robin games against Slovakia on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Shero’s installation as acting GM enhances the distinct Pittsburgh flavor of Team USA, with Dan Bylsma (head coach), Tony Granato (assistant coach) and Don Waddell (assistant GM) serving on the United States Olympic staff while Penguins defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik prepare to take the ice in red, white and blue.