You can always count on Nashville Predators GM David Poile being very candid in his remarks to the media. He gave us plenty to chew on in a recent interview.
In an interview with 104.5 The Zone’s Midday 180, Poile made some eye-opening comments regarding the Nashville Predators and the NHL’s return-to-play plan on Thursday.
It was a great interview that I encourage everyone to go listen to. Poile didn’t get to this point in his illustrious career by accident. He’s a meticulous leader of the front office for the Nashville Predators.
Some of his comments in the interview really struck me as surprising and revealing. He talked about how the pause can benefit certain parts of the team, and also touched on how the Predators will choose a starting goaltender for the play-in series.
Juuse Saros has to win his spot back?
If you watched the Predators over the last month before the pause, you saw a team that was starting to find some consistency and win some important games.
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A big catalyst behind that late surge was the play of Juuse Saros. He took off just when the Predators needed him to, and he was performing at a high level among some of best goaltenders in the league.
But Poile suggested in the interview that it’s going to be an open competition in the training camp period for the starting role. The way I understand his comment regarding this subject is it’s a clean slate, and both Saros and Pekka Rinne will be in the mix to be the Game 1 starter.
This probably surprises some people, and understandably so. Saros has clearly outplayed Rinne this season, and there’s no way that Saros’ starting role should be in jeopardy based on a quick training camp period.
One question in the interview asked if Saros has to win the job again, and Poile clearly states he does while also saying that Rinne hasn’t played all that bad:
"“I think you have to win the spot again.”"
Poile is treating this like any other training camp and outlining that some players might disappoint while others may surprise and win a spot on the team.
If you’re a big believer in Saros, then these comments probably baffle you. Saros helped propel this team to even be in this position, so talking about him having to win the job again is hard to figure out.
At the same time, you want competition in this training camp and not complacency. Every player should come in wanting to prove their worth, including Saros.
Expect a different Predators team
For better or worse, the Predators are going to be a different team. Maybe not in terms of personnel, but in the way they play on the ice. At least that’s what Poile alluded to with his remarks:
"I’m expecting that we’re going to be different coming back. What that’s going to look like I don’t know.”"
It’s fair to say that no one really knows for sure. This is unlike anything we’ve ever really seen in professional sports. We’ve seen lockouts, but never a regular season abruptly stopped with just 12 or 13 games left, and then try to restart it three or four months later.
We just don’t know how the players are going to respond to this. I’m worried that injuries will happen more so than normal and the play will be sloppy as players try to shake the rust off.
Poile highlighted the top forwards and offensively-skilled players on the team as ones who can benefit most from the pause. I’m thinking about players like Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Duchene when seeing this.
Perhaps the training camp period will be long enough for players to get back into shape. Either way, Poile is right. It won’t be the same Predators team that was playing pretty well in March.
The expanded roster for the playoffs were discussed, and Poile mentioned Eeli Tolvanen‘s name first. We did a full piece on who should be considered for the Predators expanded roster:
Finally, Poile touched on the timetable of finishing this current season by calling it possibly the “new norm”. He’s wanting to see how fans react to this timetable in regards to when other league’s like the NBA will also be playing.
I’ve also seen in thrown around that the 2020-21 season might not even start until December. I’m also not against the thought of starting next season with the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2021.
One of the better interviews I’ve seen in a while in relation to the Nashville Predators organization, so props to the guys on the Midday 180 and to Poile for putting this out there.