David Poile, currently assistant general manager of the Calgary Flames, is expected to replace Roger Crozier as the Washington Capitals' general manager later this week.
If Poile is the man, he will find himself with a coach, Bryan Murray, who already has been assured of continuing in that job by owner Abe Pollin. He also will find himself with two new players secured by Crozier in a deal belatedly announced last night, 28 hours after Crozier was fired.
Crozier agreed on Wednesday to send Chicago a No. 5 draft pick for defenseman Dave Hutchison and left wing Ted Bulley. The deal was put on hold for administrative reasons and was officially announced last night by Lou Corletto, the Capitals' public relations director, who said it was authorized by Richard Patrick, the new executive vice president.
Poile was in Washington this weekend to meet with principals of the Capitals. He was unavailable for comment yesterday, but declined to confirm his appointment in an interview published in the Calgary Herald.
"I should know the outcome after a meeting today (Saturday). I'm at a point where I have to take a chance," he was quoted in the Herald.
Poile said he had met in Washington with Pollin two weeks ago, and that he is looking for a "multiyear deal, but recognize this could just be one shot."
Cliff Fletcher, Calgary's general manager, said yesterday, "I've heard nothing officially, but should the job be an actuality, he's got my blessing. He's served his apprenticeship here and he deserves his own team."
Fletcher indicated that Pollin had telephoned him about three weeks ago for permission to negotiate with Poile.
"David is capable, and a logical candidate for the job," Fletcher said. "The only difficulty is taking over a team two weeks before training camp begins."
Poile was quoted as saying, "It's (Washington) the Atlanta situation 10 years ago all over again. The owners want a competitive team right away." Poile was Fletcher's assistant in Atlanta and moved with the team to Calgary.
Earlier this week, Pollin had said that he, Crozier and Patrick would be in charge of running the team this season.
Pollin said then no decision had been reached on Crozier's status. Pollin, who has been reported out of town on vacation, has been unavailable for comment.
Patrick is one of four new investors in the financially troubled club, which spent much of the summer amid speculation that it might move, merge or be disbanded.
On Tuesday, Pollin announced that his team would remain in operation here, helped by a county tax break, rent reduction on Capital Centre, increased season ticket sales and the influx of new cash.
Pollin retains control of the franchise, with area businessmen Jim Lewis, Marty Irving, Albert Turner and Patrick joining him in a limited partnership.
No specifics of Patrick's responsiblities have been outlined, but he said yesterday that any possibility of his becoming the team's general manager "is not anything I have ever considered.
"Everybody keeps saying I will become the GM and that's just not true," he said. "I will do what I have said all along, which is continue with my own business." Patrick is an attorney in Virginia and also runs a real estate development company.
Patrick comes from a well-known hockey playing family, and his cousin, Craig Patrick, is general manager of the New York Rangers.
Asked about Poile as general manager, Patrick declined to comment, but said, "When you're in a situation like the Capitals are now, the first thing to do is get your general manager. We have to get the new man in place."
Murray, hired in November at the time Crozier became acting general manager, said he had met with Pollin Friday and was assured that he would continue as the Capitals' coach.
"It's been a hectic summer and I felt very badly to hear about Roger," Murray said. "Roger not only was the GM, he was a pretty good friend, and he was the guy responsible for getting me here. But I guess that's all part of the business."
Murray was pleased with the acquisition of Hutchison and Bulley, calling them "big, strong hockey players who add depth that the organization has been lacking."
Hutchison, 30, is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. He has played with Los Angeles, Toronto and Chicago since entering the NHL in 1974. He has career figures of 18 goals, 90 assists and 1,311 penalty minutes.
Bulley, 27, is 6-1 and 197. In five NHL seasons, he has recorded 94 goals, 102 assists and 645 penalty minutes. Bulley in December was included in a package with center Glen Sharpley and defenseman Doug Crossman that was offered by Chicago for the Capitals' No. 1 draft pick. Crozier rejected the proposal.