Predators GM Poile on signing team's first Tennessee player, growing hockey in Nashville

blakegeoffrionpreds.jpgWhen the Nashville Predators signed solid college performer Blake Geoffrion, I couldn’t help but focus on the rich “Boom Boom” heritage of his hockey family. One other interesting thing to note, though, is that Geoffrion is the first Tennessee native the team ever drafted, as an story points out.

While they lack the deep hockey roots of a traditional market and the big budget of a larger city-based team, the Predators have scratched and clawed their way to multiple playoff berths. They’ve done so thanks to deft drafting by their long-time general manager David Poile and the wise guidance of head coach Barry Trotz. As other clubs seem to fire their coaches and GMs at the drop of a hat, both Poile and Trotz have enjoyed remarkable careers that spanned nearly the entire run of the franchise.

Poile reflected on drafting Geoffrion and the uphill battle the Predators still fight in gaining the attention of the Nashville market.

Poile and the Predators are building hockey in Nashville, where football is king. Between 1971 and 1989, there was only one year of professional hockey in the area and Poile had to start from scratch. Thirteen years after the birth of the Predators, they are still building a hockey foundation.

“It is still certainly a work in progress,” Poile said. “We are doing well, but we could do better. We are still trying to promote and sell the game and that is what our job is. Maybe a player like Geoffrion will come in and help get more people interested. (It’s similar (to Washington), so maybe I am a little bit of a pioneer here in some of these areas. It is kind of neat to go into an area that hasn’t had much of a base for hockey.

“Those of us who have been in it, grew up in it (Polie’s father was an NHL player for five of the Original Six teams and was the general manager for expansion teams in Philadelphia and Vancouver), we know how great the game is. It’s kind of neat to see how it catches on and how minor hockey grows and then you get players like Blake Geoffrion who eventually plays for your team and some kids will say, ‘Maybe I won’t play baseball or football, maybe I will try hockey.’

“Football is king, that’s OK; we just want our fair share.”

Of course, for all the good feelings about the relative success of the franchise, winning is the best way to grow hockey. Just look at the Cup-winning Dallas Stars versus the just-now-competitive Phoenix Coyotes. Making the playoffs is great, but one of these days the Predators need to advance to the second round. The postseason seems to be a time in which the team’s lack of scoring punch (and budget) catches up to them, but if they can find a way past the richer teams, they could be on to something in Nashville.

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    Daniel Winnik was back at practice just two days after his ear got ‘chewed up’

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Daniel Winnik #26 of the Washington Capitals skates against the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center on March 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Rangers defeated the Capitals 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Hockey players are known for their toughness, but Daniel Winnik is taking it to a whole new level.

    The damage was done after Winnik blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

    After the game, Caps head coach Barry Trotz said his forward had lost a piece of his ear, but it sounds like that wasn’t totally accurate.

    “I wouldn’t say I lost a piece of it,” said Winnik, per the Washington Post. “I mean, it’s really chewed up, and obviously some scabs and all of that, but no visible missing piece…The puck hit basically half ear, maybe a little more ear than helmet. Very fortunate it wasn’t way worse.”

    He didn’t need any stitches, but they did have to use some glue to patch him up.

    To watch how his ear got “chewed up,” click here.

    It doesn’t sound like the injury did enough to scare Winnik into putting on a visor or an earpiece.

    “I mean, my face has been banged up a lot over the years, and I still haven’t worn a visor. I mean I’ve probably broken my nose like 15 times or something. I just can’t wear it, and the earpieces, I think you’re just used to wearing it for so long without it. I mean you take them out you’re like, ‘Why the hell was I wearing earpieces in the first place?’ But I guess this is kind of an indication on why guys do.”

    ‘We’ve got a lot of guys sick’: Some Predators players have been hit hard by food poisoning

    SUNRISE, FL - SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Nashville Predators talks to the players during a break in action against the Florida Panthers during a preseason game at the BB&T Center on September 27, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    Here’s a story you don’t see everyday.

    Nashville Predators GM David Poile might have to scramble to put a roster together for tonight’s game against Pittsburgh because a few of his players are dealing with food poisoning.

    During yesterday’s game against the Red Wings, both Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith were forced to exit early because of illness.

    Now we know that the illnesses were caused by something the players ate (Poile believes it was chicken soup that caused this).

    We still don’t know exactly how many players have been affected by this.

    Playing two games in two nights is hard enough, but it sounds like it’ll be even tougher for the Preds tonight.

    James Neal, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban are all fine, according to Brooks Bratten.

    More details to come.

    Lower-body injury will keep Ryan Pulock out for 4-6 weeks

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 21: Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders skates against the Arizona Coyotes at the Barclays Center on October 21, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Well, this isn’t the start to the season Ryan Pulock was hoping for.

    After playing six games with the Islanders during last year’s playoffs, many expected Pulock to make the team out of training, but that didn’t happen.

    He didn’t spend much time in the minors (two games) because of the injury to Nick Leddy.

    Pulock made his season debut in last night’s game against Arizona. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a lower-body injury after playing just 3:57.

    On Saturday, the team announced that Pulock will be out anywhere between 4-to-6 weeks.

    If Leddy can’t play on Sunday, the Islanders will have to recall another defenseman from the minors. Because they’re carrying three goalies, they only have room for six blue liners.

    With Tuukka Rask banged up, Bruins recall Zane McIntyre on emergency basis

    BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Zane McIntyre #50 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against the Washington Capitals during the second period at TD Garden on September 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    The Boston Bruins recalled goalie Zane McIntyre on an emergency basis on Saturday morning.

    The call up was necessary because it doesn’t look like starter Tuukka Rask will be able to suit up against the Montreal Canadiens tonight.

    Rask missed Friday’s practice with what head coach Claude Julien described as “general body soreness,” but it might be a little more serious than that if he’s forced to miss multiple games.

    According to Julien, Rask is feeling better, but the prefer giving him the night off.

    The Bruins selected McIntyre in the sixth-round of the 2010 Entry Draft.

    He’s never suited up in an NHL game before.

    The 24-year-old turned pro last year, after spending three years at the University of North Dakota.

    He had a 14-8-7 record with a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .898 save percentage with Providence in 2015-16. This season, he has a 0.44 goals-against and a .977 save percentage in three games.

    It’s interesting to note that the Bruins preferred McIntyre to former first rounder Malcolm Subban.

    Subban has an 0-3 record in the AHL this year and he’s been pulled in two of his three outings.