Preds GM Poile won’t accompany USA hockey at Sochi Olympics

In absentia, Team USA hockey GM David Poile has the Americans positioned for a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, who doubles as the general manager of the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team, will not travel to the Sochi Games because of injuries suffered when he was struck in the head by a puck last week, USA Hockey announced on Monday.

USA Hockey coaches and executives in Sochi discussed the subject after a team practice. USA coach Dan Bylsma, the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, characterized it as a "huge disappointment" that Poile would not be able to join the team, according to a Chicago Sun-Times tweet (Mark Lazerus).

While attending the Predators’ morning skate at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. last Thursday, Poile was hit by an errant puck. He required stitches for lacerations and two surgical procedures on his face (orbital bone/nose).

According to The Tennessean, Poile has since returned to Nashville.

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero, who once served as assistant general manager to Poile in Nashville, has succeeded his former mentor as GM for Team USA.

Poile issued the following statement on Monday:

"I first want to thank everyone who has reached out to me since suffering this injury. The outpouring of support and comfort has been overwhelming. My priority is to adhere to the advice and counsel of the medical team and, as a result, I will not be traveling to Sochi to be with Team USA during the Winter Olympics.

"Serving as GM of the U.S. Olympic Team has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I am forever grateful to USA Hockey. … Team USA is in great hands and I will be there in spirit. I wish all the best for our players, coaches and entire group as they begin play in the 2014 Olympics and go for the gold."

Poile, who turns 64 on Friday, is the third-longest tenured general manager in NHL history. He has spent 31 consecutive years at the helm of a league franchise, 15 with Washington and the past 16 years with the Predators.

Poile is the only general manager in Nashville history.