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 NHL.com 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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    Video: Julien won’t discuss job security with Bruins

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    The job security of Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien remains a hot topic of discussion, particularly these past few days and that isn’t likely to change following Friday’s defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Despite carrying the play, especially through the first two periods, the Bruins were unable to score and were shut out once again, losing the game on a goal from Marian Hossa with 1:26 remaining in regulation. For the Bruins, that’s a heartbreaker.

    It seems Julien’s job in Boston is always up for discussion during at least some point in a season, but the chatter now seems especially bleak, even if one could find plenty of faults with Boston’s roster, which falls on management.

    Addressing reporters after Friday’s loss, Julien liked how his team played versus the Blackhawks, but admitted there are “growing pains” and there were costly mistakes made at points in the game.

    When asked about job security, Julien didn’t wish to discuss the subject.

    “I’m not into shock journalism,” he said, “so I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

    Major victory: Habs power play erupts to defeat Devils

    OTTAWA, CANADA - OCTOBER 15: Shea Weber #6 of the Montreal Canadiens fires a slapshot during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on October 15, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The toughest thing Montreal Canadiens goalie Al Montoya had to do against the New Jersey Devils was stay awake.

    The Canadiens limited the Devils to a season-low 17 shots, and Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty each scored a power-play goal during a major penalty early in the third period of Montreal’s 3-1 victory Friday night.

    “I’d take this any night,” Montoya said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game skid. “Your team is playing fantastic in front of you. Halfway through the game it’s 1-1 and all I’m really focused on is making that next save. These guys did a phenomenal job and I just wanted to make that next save, and the power play was terrific. The guys were mainly terrific all night.”

    Alex Galchenyuk added a goal and two assists, and Alexander Radulov had three assists as Montreal ended the Devils’ three-game winning streak.

    The difference in this one was the power play. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 with the extra man and they converted twice with Devils defenseman Karl Stollery in the box for a boarding major.

    The call was iffy. Stollery hit Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in the corner in the Devils end, but the question was whether it was a major or minor penalty.

    “It happened quick,” Stollery said. “The guy is coming in and I am going in to finish the play and he turns up. I probably would like to let up a little bit more if it happened again. It’s one of those things that happens quick.”

    Devils coach John Hynes screamed at the officials.

    “All I got was they felt it was a dangerous hit,” Hynes said. “At that point they are not going to explain it too much. They were defensive. They made the call. It is what it is. At that point we have to try to find a way to kill it better than we did.”

    The first two minutes of the major were played 4-on-4, but the Canadiens capitalized after that.

    Weber scored his 11th of the season on a drive from the blue line at 3:01 that was set up by Radulov. Pacioretty got his 21st at 4:23 with a shot that deflected off the skate of Devils forward Adam Henrique.

    “It was huge,” Weber said. “Obviously, special teams mean so much coming down the stretch and heading into playoffs, so trying to get some chemistry going and help the team win games, it’s obviously a big thing.”

    Rookie defenseman Steven Santini gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead, but the Canadiens dominated after that, firing 26 shots at Keith Kinkaid.

    Montoya had nothing to do for long stretches. New Jersey was held without a shot for more than 12 minutes after Santini scored, and it needed 13 minutes to get one in the second period.

    Santini put New Jersey ahead when he flipped a shot from just inside the blue line that floated into the top corner of the net.

    Galchenyuk tied the game 74 seconds later with a shot from the left circle with Devils forward Miles Wood in the penalty box for slashing. The tally came 28 seconds after the penalty and on Montreal’s first shot with the man advantage.

    Video: Henrik Sedin records 1,000th career point

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    Henrik Sedin has become the 85th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points.

    Sedin, the Canucks captain, hit the milestone Friday against the Florida Panthers and his former teammate Roberto Luongo. As you might imagine, twin brother Daniel Sedin also factored into the goal.

    Daniel fed Henrik with a perfect pass off the rush, and Henrik finished the play off, sliding the puck through the legs of Luongo to tie the game 1-1 in the second period. It was another beauty, another example of what has made those two players so special for many years in Vancouver.

    Henrik Sedin is the first player in Canucks history to reach 1,000 points. He also becomes just the fourth player from Sweden to hit that number, joining Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson and Nicklas Lidstrom.

    Daniel should also reach the mark, although he may have to wait until next season. He entered Friday’s game with 967 career points.

    Great touch of class, too, from Luongo, who quickly embraced his former teammate as Sedin skated back to the bench following the on-ice celebration.

    Video: Tempers flare between Oilers and Predators, as Lucic and McLeod drop the gloves

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    Things got feisty between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators on Friday.

    It started in the second period after P.K. Subban took an elbow from Matt Hendricks along the end boards. Hendricks was immediately grabbed by Anthony Bitetto. Nothing really materialized from that, however the main event broke out between Milan Lucic and Nashville newcomer Cody McLeod.

    Lucic landed some pretty heavy punches before the two players fell to the ice.

    Subban was making his return to the Predators lineup after missing 16 games with what was reported to be a herniated disc.