Landmark win has special meaning for David Poile, Barry Trotz

Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Yahoo Sports

DETROIT – A quick hug, a back slap, and that was that. David Poile and Barry Trotz sat down in a couple of metal folding chairs in the visiting coaches' office at Joe Louis Arena, savored it for a few seconds and went back about their business.

"That was as big a moment as anything," Trotz said. "I was able to do something with David that was sort of unique."

Sort of unique?

When their Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, 4-1, Poile and Trotz won their 500th game together.

That's impressive enough. So is the fact that Poile became the first general manager in NHL history to win 500 games with two franchises, having already won 594 with the Washington Capitals from 1982-97. So is the fact that Trotz became the fifth coach in NHL history to win 500 games with one team, following Al Arbour, Toe Blake, Billy Reay and Lindy Ruff.

But that isn't the heart of the story. These are truly their Nashville Predators. Poile is the only GM the Preds have ever had. Trotz is the only coach the Preds have ever had. They have done everything from help name the team to help pick out the carpet at the rink. They have built a consistently successful organization and a respectable following in a small Southern city.

And now here they were, reaching a milestone and doing it in a place where they never used to win, against a team they have been chasing for years – against a team they could face in the playoffs. The Predators moved past the Red Wings into fourth place in the Western Conference, which would give them home-ice advantage in the first round.

It was another small step toward the Stanley Cup, another small step on a long journey that began more than 14 years ago.

"I think the significance for Barry and myself is, we've been here from Day 1," Poile said.

Poile is an expansion expert. His father, Bud, was the first GM of both the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks. He started his career as an administrative assistant with the brand-new Atlanta Flames, and after leading the Capitals, he became the first GM in Nashville.

When he hired Trotz in August 1997, the team was more than a year from its first faceoff. It had a logo – a saber-toothed skull, like a fossil that had once been unearthed in downtown Nashville – but it had no name.

They brainstormed. They flipped through dictionaries and hockey books. Trotz looked through a Canadian Hockey League guide and found a team from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League called the Granby Predateurs.

"I said, 'The Nashville Predators. That sounds pretty decent,' " Trotz said. The fans thought so, too. They picked Predators instead of Ice Tigers, Fury or Attack. Thank goodness.

But the name was just the beginning. There were so many other details to determine. At one point, Poile, Trotz and assistant coach Paul Gardner were in the dressing room looking at carpet swatches, agonizing over different colors. Finally, Gardner said something like this:

"It doesn't matter. We won't be around when they change the carpet."

Gardner is gone. But Poile and Trotz are still around, and the Predators have changed the carpet at least twice – once because it had worn out, once because of a flood.

Yes, a flood. They're lucky they haven't had locusts. Poile and Trotz have dealt with many plagues in Nashville, from ownership uncertainty to relocation rumors to money problems to player losses.

But they have made the playoffs seven times in eight seasons. They are coming off their first playoff series victory. They have gone from a nice, little efficient operation in a non-traditional market – drafting and developing players, getting by on a tight budget – to an ambitious team that is all in and sold out.

Trotz, one of the great talkers among NHL coaches, still sells Nashville as he always has. On Friday morning in Detroit, a city with Original Six tradition that calls itself Hockeytown, he said Nashville has become "sort of Hockeytown South."

"We've now taken root, and we are part of the fabric of Nashville," Trotz said. "And that will be there for a long, long time."

[ Also: Leo-Guy Morrissette is still a Titan of controversy in the QMJHL ]

In a way, Poile and Trotz have to keep selling, even to their own players. Defenseman Ryan Suter can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Captain Shea Weber can follow next summer. They want to play somewhere they can win the Cup.

The Predators went for it before the trade deadline, adding hulking defenseman Hal Gill, defensive center Paul Gaustad and scoring winger Andrei Kostitsyn. Then they added yet another piece, bringing back star Alexander Radulov, who had left for Russia in 2008 with one year left on his entry-level contract.

All of that has upset team chemistry, and the Predators have been inconsistent lately. They have a lot of work to do in a little amount of time before the playoffs.

"We have all the pieces," said Gill, who won the Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and went to the Eastern Conference final with the Montreal Canadiens in 2010. "But we've got to make sure they're in the right spots."

Poile and Trotz have another challenge, too. They're no longer underdogs, scrapping to make the playoffs. They're expected to win now. They have an excellent goaltender in Pekka Rinne, an elite defense pairing with Suter and Weber, a forward group that can roll four lines, a top-10 offense.

They actually have to manage high expectations inside and outside the organization, reminding everyone of the parity in the NHL – that they have merely become one of several teams with a legit chance, that they have not guaranteed themselves anything.

"I'm sure everyone here knows we have a good team, but we can't sit back," winger Patric Hornqvist said. "We have to work hard. We have to try to get better every time you come to the rink to get our goal."

But that's what Poile and Trotz have been doing since 1997. That's why 500 is so unique.

That's why Suter picked up a puck for Poile during the last timeout Friday night. That's why center David Legwand – the Predators' first draft pick, still with the team – picked up a puck for Trotz after the final horn and presented it to him in the dressing room.

That's why they're far from satisfied.

"That's the evolution," Trotz said. "You want that. If you're not in it to win it, what are you doing in this business?"

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Mega Millions: Which sports franchises could you buy with $400 Million?
Huskies have miles to go on defense this spring
Junior dos Santos' nice-guy persona is no act; call him the 'Smiling Assassin'

  • Trip Tips: Brazil's beachless metropolis is a foodie's paradise

    By Todd Benson SAO PAULO (Reuters) - If your idea of Brazil is beaches and bikinis, São Paulo is not the place to go. But if you're a seasoned traveler who tends to shun traditional tourism hot spots for urban adventures off the beaten trail, then … More »

    Reuters - 10 minutes ago
  • Jeff Teague hits ridiculous (and controversial) running-out-of-bounds 3 as Hawks beat Pacers for 2-1 lead (Video)
  • Icher impresses in cold Day 1 at Swinging Skirts

    Icher impresses in cold Day 1 at Swinging Skirts

    Karine Icher of France birdied four of her first seven holes and finished with a 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the lead in the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. The start was delayed two hours because of fog and play was suspended because of … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Moyes left all at sea by scale of United job, says former coach

    Moyes left all at sea by scale of United job, says former coach

    (Reuters) - David Moyes lost his job as Manchester United manager because he ignored advice and failed to appreciate the scale of the job, said Rene Meulensteen, a former coach at the Premier League club. Moyes was sacked on Tuesday after a … More »

    Reuters - 15 minutes ago
  • World sports diary April 26 - May 3

    April 25 (Reuters) - World sports diary from April 26 - May 3 - - - - SATURDAY, APRIL 26 SOCCER Premier League (1400 unless stated) Southampton v Everton (1145) Fulham v Hull City Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur Swansea City v Aston Villa West … More »

    Reuters - 18 minutes ago
  • Hawks take 2-1 lead on top-seeded Pacers

    Hawks take 2-1 lead on top-seeded Pacers

    As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of ''Overrated!'' Game 3 did nothing to change that perception. The top-seeded Pacers are on the ropes again at the hands … More »

    AP - Sports - 18 minutes ago
  • Teague scores 22, Korver 20 to lead Hawks past top-seeded Pacers 98-85 for 2-1 lead in series

    Teague scores 22, Korver 20 to lead Hawks past top-seeded Pacers 98-85 for 2-1 lead in series

    ATLANTA - As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of "Overrated!" The top-seeded Pacers are on the ropes again at the hands of the eighth-seeded Hawks, who … More »

    The Canadian Press - 18 minutes ago
  • Postgame: Frank Vogel

    Postgame: Frank Vogel

    Frank Vogel talks to the media following the Game 3 loss to the Hawks. … More »

    NBA.com - 28 minutes ago
  • No Bills cheerleaders in 2014 after suit

    No Bills cheerleaders in 2014 after suit

    Pack up the pom-poms in Buffalo, because the Bills will be playing without the support of their official cheerleaders this year. Stephanie Mateczun, whose company manages the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad, said Thursday she has suspended … More »

    AP - Sports - 30 minutes ago
  • Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Phelps loses to Lochte in comeback meet

    Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medalist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. Phelps was second in 52.13 in his first meet since retiring after … More »

    AP - Sports - 34 minutes ago
  • Westbrook's Amazing Three

    Westbrook's Amazing Three

    Russell Westbrook gets fouled and buries an amazing 3-pointer during the 4th quarter. … More »

    NBA.com - 35 minutes ago
  • Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Michael Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 36 minutes ago
  • Westbrook's Big Three

    Westbrook's Big Three

    Russell Westbrook draws the foul and sinks an incredible three-pointer. … More »

    NBA.com - 37 minutes ago
  • Lolo's track transition continues at Drake Relays

    Lolo's track transition continues at Drake Relays

    Lolo Jones will continue her quick transition from bobsled to track this weekend with a hometown advantage. Jones will compete Friday at the Drake Relays in her native Des Moines, just two months removed from an 11th-place finish as a brakeman for … More »

    AP - Sports - 38 minutes ago
  • Everest climbing season in disarray as climbing teams cancel and more Sherpas leave base camp

    Everest climbing season in disarray as climbing teams cancel and more Sherpas leave base camp

    KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepal's attempts to salvage the Mount Everest climbing season took another hit Friday as more Sherpa mountain guides packed and left the base camp for their village homes a week after the deadliest disaster on the world's highest … More »

    The Canadian Press - 38 minutes ago
  • Senna had so much to offer, says sister

    Senna had so much to offer, says sister

    By Andrew Downie SAO PAULO (Reuters) - For Brazilians of a certain generation, the death of Ayrton Senna is not unlike September 11 or the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "It’s funny, it doesn’t seem like it was 20 years ago," hissister Viviane … More »

    Reuters - 41 minutes ago
  • Reds' Simon accused of sexual assault

    Reds' Simon accused of sexual assault

    A woman who said Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon sexually assaulted her in a Washington hotel a year ago when the team was in town to play the Nationals is suing the player for $15 million. The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed the civil … More »

    AP - Sports - 43 minutes ago
  • Everest climbing season in disarray after deaths

    Nepal's attempts to salvage the Mount Everest climbing season took another hit Friday as more Sherpa mountain guides packed and left the base camp for their village homes a week after the deadliest disaster on the world's highest mountain. Their … More »

    AP - Sports - 45 minutes ago
  • Udrih Spins and Hits

    Udrih Spins and Hits

    Beno Udrih spins off his defender to the rack and finishes with a layup. … More »

    NBA.com - 47 minutes ago
  • Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    Phelps loses to Lochte in 100 butterfly final at comeback meet in Arizona

    MESA, Ariz. - Michael Phelps is 0 for 1 in his comeback to the pool. The 22-time Olympic medallist lost to Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly final at the Arena Grand Prix on Thursday night. … More »

    The Canadian Press - 51 minutes ago
  • Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    Cruz extends RBI streak, Orioles win

    TORONTO (AP) -- Chris Davis had two hits and three RBIs, Jonathan Schoop homered and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 on Thursday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 59 minutes ago
  • Pacers vs. Hawks: Game 3

    Pacers vs. Hawks: Game 3

    Jeff Teague scores 22 points and dishes out 10 assists as the Hawks knock off the Pacers in Game 3. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 0 minutes ago
  • Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    By Julian Linden PHOENIX (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow loss to old rival Ryan Lochte in his comeback to competitive swimming on Thursday, but still showed enough to suggest he will be a force to be reckoned with. Racing for the … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 6 minutes ago
  • Martin shoots course record 62, leads by two in New Orleans

    (Reuters) - Ben Martin fired a course record 10-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead in the opening round of the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday. Martin made light of gusting afternoon winds to reel off 10 birdies, capped … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 8 minutes ago
  • Toronto Blue Jays fall back to .500 mark after 11-4 loss to Baltimore Orioles

    TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays wasted a quality start by Drew Hutchison and fell back to the .500 mark by dropping an 11-4 decision to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Rogers Centre. Hutchison worked six solid innings and left the game … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 8 minutes ago
  • Conley's High Scoop Shot

    Conley's High Scoop Shot

    Mike Conley drives to the basket and sinks an amazing shot. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 16 minutes ago
  • Prince Down the Lane

    Prince Down the Lane

    Tayshaun Prince drives the lane for the finger-roll finish. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 17 minutes ago
  • Swimming-Phelps beaten in first comeback final

    * Phelps narrowly beaten by Lochte in comeback race * Still satisfied with return despite loss * Qualifies for national titles later this year (Updates after final) By Julian Linden PHOENIX, April 24 (Reuters) - Michael Phelps suffered a narrow … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 20 minutes ago
  • Golf-Martin shoots course record 62, leads by two in New Orleans

    Ben Martin fired a course record 10-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead in the opening round of the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday. Martin made light of gusting afternoon winds to reel off 10 birdies, capped off by a … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 24 minutes ago
  • Blatter wants to revive 6+5 proposal

    Blatter wants to revive 6+5 proposal

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants to revive his so-called 6+5 proposal which would force clubs to field at least six players from their own country. The idea won the backing of the FIFA Congress in 2008 but was ditched after it fell foul of … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 29 minutes ago
  • Fresno St. finalizes DeRuyter extension

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter has signed a contract extension that runs through 2018 worth at least $7.5 million. … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 29 minutes ago
  • The day Senna grabbed F1's attention

    The day Senna grabbed F1's attention

    By Alan Baldwin LONDON (Reuters) - While Formula One remembers Ayrton Senna on the 20th anniversary of his death at Imola, happier memories of another race 10 years earlier highlight just why the great Brazilian is still so sorely missed. The 1984 … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 32 minutes ago
  • Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

    Senna's simple grave a magnet for fans 20 years on

    By Andrew Downie SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Ayrton Senna is as discreet in death as he was lively in life. The last resting place of Brazil's most charismatic Formula One champion is marked by a brass plaque on a circular lawn, surrounded by almost … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 35 minutes ago
  • Ayrton Senna's Formula One career

    Ayrton Senna's Formula One career

    (Reuters) - May 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Brazil's triple Formula One champion Ayrton Senna in the San Marino Grand Prix at Italy's Imola circuit. The following details the main points of his career: - - - - * Born Ayrton Senna … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 36 minutes ago
  • Ryan Nelsen sympathetic to Moyse, believes fired Man U boss will succeed elsewhere

    TORONTO - Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen was quick to offer sympathy — and support — to fired Manchester United boss David Moyes. "He's very good at what he does," Nelsen said Thursday after practice. "And what (Roberto) Martinez is doing at … More »

    The Canadian Press - 1 hour 43 minutes ago
  • Teague Beats the Buzzer

    Teague Beats the Buzzer

    Jeff Teague drains an amazing 3-pointer during the fourth quarter. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 45 minutes ago
  • Wings' Zetterberg in lineup vs. Bruins

    Wings' Zetterberg in lineup vs. Bruins

    Henrik Zetterberg is in the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins. Jonas Gustavsson is, too. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told reporters that doctors would ultimately decide if Zetterberg could play Thursday night … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 47 minutes ago
  • Westbrook for Three

    Westbrook for Three

    Russell Westbrook comes off the screen to drain his first three-pointer of the game. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 54 minutes ago
  • Korver's Big Three

    Korver's Big Three

    Kyle Korver gets fouled and buries a 3-pointer from the wing. … More »

    NBA.com - 1 hour 56 minutes ago
  • Martin shoots course-record 62 at Zurich

    Martin shoots course-record 62 at Zurich

    A few weeks ago, Ben Martin had missed seven of eight cuts and figured he'd better make some changes. On Thursday, Martin treated a tiny late-afternoon gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 in the first round of the Zurich … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 59 minutes ago