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David Poile will retire as Predators’ GM, and Barry Trotz will replace him

“For the Predators, I believe it is time for a new voice and a new direction,” David Poile said. (Mark Humphrey/AP)
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David Poile, the winningest general manager in NHL history, will retire at the end of the season. Replacing him in that position for the Predators, with whom Poile has spent the past 25-plus years, will be former Nashville coach Barry Trotz.

The Predators announced Sunday that Poile, 73, is set to lead their front office until June 30, one day after the conclusion of the draft. The only general manager the team has known since its inception in 1997, Poile has helped the club reach the playoffs in 15 of the past 18 seasons, including a Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2017.

Before signing on with Nashville, Poile had been the general manager of the Washington Capitals for the preceding 15 years. His 41 straight seasons as a general manager are the most in NHL history, according to the Predators, and entering Sunday no person in that position had more than Poile’s 1,519 wins to go with 1,162 losses, 192 ties and 176 overtime losses.

Trotz, 60, also has strong ties to the Capitals, having led them to their only Stanley Cup as coach in 2018 before parting ways with the team after a four-year stint. He came to Washington from Nashville, where he spent 15 years as the Predators’ first coach; more recently, Trotz coached the New York Islanders for four seasons. His 914 wins as an NHL head coach, against 670 losses, 60 ties and 168 overtime losses, rank third all-time.

From the archives: 35 years after saving the Caps, GM David Poile reaches Stanley Cup with Predators

“As we celebrate David for 25 incredible years as our general manager, it is my privilege to, at the same time, welcome home Barry Trotz,” Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said in a statement. “These two men have done more to forge the identity of the Nashville Predators and our relationship with SMASHVILLE than anyone else in our organization’s history.”

Poile, who also will be relinquishing his role as president of hockey operations, is set to maintain a relationship with the Predators as an adviser. He said Sunday that it was “a decision that is best for me personally and best for the Nashville Predators.”

“For the Predators, I believe it is time for a new voice and a new direction,” Poile said in a statement. “I am proud of the foundation we have put in place in our hockey operations, investing in and improving every area of the department. This is the right time for someone else to move our franchise forward.”

Trotz, who will advise Poile until replacing him July 1, said his “heart has been in Nashville since that first season.”

“I believe our team and our fanbase has developed a relationship that is very unique in sports today, and I am excited to be returning home to the organization and the city where I held my first head coaching job in the NHL,” he said in a statement. “I can’t thank David enough, not only for turning over the job to me, but for teaching me so much over the past 40 years. I believe I am prepared to succeed as an NHL general manager, and I have David to thank for that.”

Before he was hired by Poile to coach the Predators, Trotz was tabbed by the then-Capitals general manager to do scouting for the team in his home province of Manitoba and then to run Washington’s top minor league affiliate.

Poile began his Capitals tenure in 1982, taking over a team with a tenuous outlook — not only on the ice but also in terms of remaining in the Washington area — after eight mostly dismal seasons following its birth as an expansion club.

Then the youngest general manager in the NHL at 33, Poile decided to retain coach Bryan Murray, who had joined the Capitals’ bench the previous season and would go on to a nine-year tenure with Washington. Poile quickly made an even more significant move when he engineered a blockbuster trade that brought in Rod Langway — a Stanley Cup winner and standout young defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens — as well as Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis and Craig Laughlin.

From the archives: Barry Trotz’s D.C. return is all heart, which sums up his four years as Caps coach

Poile said at the time that then-Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman “called to congratulate me on my new job, and we started talking shop.” The Capitals immediately began a run of 14 straight playoff appearances.

In 2017, Poile won the NHL’s award for general manager of the year, his first time receiving the honor after three previous nominations. He was cited for having helped the Predators reach the championship round, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with trades for defenseman P.K. Subban and center Ryan Johansen.

“I am incredibly proud,” Poile said Sunday, “of everything the Predators organization has accomplished in my time here — all the wins, our appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and winning the Presidents’ Trophy, but I am most proud of helping develop SMASHVILLE into one of the best hockey markets in the National Hockey League.”

“I appreciate all the passion and support,” he added, “over the last 25 years.”

Poile isn’t ready to stop making moves, though. After his pending departure was announced Sunday night, Poile’s Predators traded forward Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Cal Foote and five draft picks, including a 2025 first-rounder.