David Poile, general manager of the US hockey team, is watching the team from Nashville after he was hit by a puck earlier this month. He's shown here in a photo from September 2013.
John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — David Poile may not see again out of his right eye after taking a puck to the face. That’s not stopping the general manager of the U.S. hockey team and the Nashville Predators as he returns to work.
"I’m not trying to be a hero or anything else," Poile said Thursday. "This is not a good situation. It is difficult but I have to, and want to, move on. There’s different adjustments that (I’m) going to have to make, but there’s lots of people that have lost an eye and they’re operating very well and I have to be one of them."
Poile wore an eye patch as he spoke with reporters Thursday in his first public comments since being hit Feb. 6 during a pregame skate in Minnesota. The puck broke his nose in three places and cracked the orbital bone above and below his right eye. Poile said that required 40 stitches above the eye with stitches in the eye itself with three surgeries, the last Feb. 14 in Nashville.
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The general manager also said he was on the bench when hit by the puck.
"I was clearly at the wrong place at the wrong time," Poile said. "I don’t like going on the bench. I hardly ever go on the bench, and I sort of always stay down in the hallway just because of situations like that. As we say in hockey, it was a seeing-eye puck."
Poile plans to get glasses to provide protection for his right eye and said he didn’t listen specifically to all the details of the injury. He joked that doctors even improved his nose in treating him.
"All I know is there’s substantial damage such to the point that I don’t have any sight today and … they’re holding out hope that maybe something will change as the eye heals," Poile said.
The injury prevented Poile from attending the Sochi Olympics, so he has been talking to assistant general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma daily. Poile said 90 percent of the work as general manager was done before everyone headed to Sochi, so he finds himself now disappointed at not being in Russia as he serves as a long-distance cheerleader.
Poile said he couldn’t be prouder of what has happened so far.
"Clearly, to this point USA is the best team," Poile said. "I mean all the things that we did to put the team to this point have come to fruition. I couldn’t ask for a better scenario playing Canada tomorrow in the, I wish it was the gold medal game. It feels like it’s the gold medal game, but you know from four years ago to get back to that same point I mean you ask, pray for those opportunities to be given second chances."
Poile was assistant general manager for the U.S. team that lost the gold medal to Canada in overtime in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
His travel also will be limited for the next few weeks. The Predators have a five-game home stand after the Olympic break ends, but Poile likely will miss their first road trip March 10 when they play at Ottawa, then Buffalo and Chicago.
The NHL trade deadline is March 5. Poile said Nashville’s biggest move could be the return of goaltender Pekka Rinne. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist returned to the ice Wednesday, though there’s no timeline yet as Rinne returns from an infection in his hip that needed surgery and has sidelined him since late October.
"I can’t think of anybody that’s going to be able to add something better than that to their team," Poile said of Rinne.