David Poile, former assistant general manager of the Calgary Flames, was named general manager of the Washington Capitals yesterday and said, "I would never have accepted this job if I did not believe the Capitals would make the playoffs in 1982-83."
Poile also said at a press conference at Capital Centre that one condition of his accepting the job was that Bryan Murray remain as coach. "Bryan Murray is the man," he said. "There is nobody else."
Poile's appointment was announced by Richard Patrick, the club's executive vice president, who said Poile "will be responsible for all hockey matters, and will meet with (team owner) Abe Pollin and myself daily to discuss plans for improving the Capitals."
At 33, Poile becomes the youngest general manager in the NHL. He replaces Roger Crozier, who was fired Friday. Terms of Poile's contract were not detailed, but he said it was a multiyear agreement. Pollin, who is on vacation, did not attend the press conference.
Said Poile: "The adrenaline's flowing. I feel like I've got a key in my back . . . If this franchise has problems, then I've made a poor decision coming here."
The Capitals have never reached the playoffs in their eight-year existence.
Poile said the Capitals first contacted him about three weeks ago.
"It was a tough period for me, because I didn't know how it would work out," he said, referring to the team's uncertain status through much of the summer.
In his discussions with Pollin and Patrick, Poile said he had insisted that Murray remain the team's coach. "It was an absolute stipulation that there not be a coaching change," he said.
Poile also talked about the amount of power he would have in making moves for the team. "I wanted to know if Abe and Dick Patrick agreed with my definition of general manager," he said.
"The general manager has to be able to do things on instinct. Last year at the draft, we (Calgary) made a deal at 3 a.m. If we'd had to contact the owners first, we probably wouldn't have been able to complete it. My definition of a G.M. is the overseeing of the organization.
"I brought that up with Abe, and he told me if I can make deals to better the team, he's not adverse to doing anything."
Poile said that because he and Pollin are new to each other, a certain area of trust will have to be established. "But as far as I'm concerned, the hockey department is my baby, and I should be able to go ahead," he said.
Asked about potential trades, Poile said he would spend this week talking with every general manager in the NHL to "get a feeling of what they think of the Caps, and at the appropriate time in October or November, when some team's not doing so well, we'll be ready to make changes."
He also said signing the team's top draft pick, defenseman Scott Stevens, was a priority, and that he would be in touch with goalie Mike Palmateer's doctor. Palmateer crushed some bones in his right knee last year, and last played Nov. 28. He was operated on in December to remove floating cartilage.
"We have to see if he's ready to play," Poile said. "We have five goalies under contract."