Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee
By John Manasso  |  Last updated 2/18/14
As David Poile recovers from the serious injuries he suffered in a freak accident almost two weeks ago, he can take comfort in the performance of the U.S. Olympic team he so meticulously and painstakingly built. It's arguable that in the preliminary round, the United States was the best team of the 12 nations competing. The United States won all three of its games, but earned only two points for its T.J. Oshie-powered shootout victory heard 'round the world against host Russia -- two points instead of the three earned for regulation victories. None of the other favored countries in the tournament had to play as difficult of a foe under such pressure-packed circumstances in a game loaded with historical and cultural meaning. The more than 6 million viewers in the United States who tuned in for that early Saturday morning game can attest to that. As a result, the United States earned the No. 3 seed, waling away from the prelims with the top goal differential of the opening around at plus-11. Of course, it won't mean much of anything if the United States cannot win on Wednesday in the quarterfinals against Czech or succeed on Friday in the semifinals, likely against Canada. But, for now, Poile's theory as to how to build a team for this tournament -- a theory that came under criticism, in part because of the decision to allow two reporters to be "embedded" with the selection committee, thus showing to the world, warts and all, its deliberations -- is being proved correct. That theory was not to pick a team of the top 25 Americans, an All-Star team, if you will, but to put together a genuine team that could play on the larger ice surface and combat the strengths of its opponents, which necessitated the need to neutralize some of the world's most skilled forwards on Russia and Canada. That meant leaving off an offensive-minded defenseman in the Phoenix Coyotes' Keith Yandle and one of the top American scorers over the past five seasons in Ottawa wing Bobby Ryan. It meant including a player with a strong shootout move like the Blues' Oshie and including a bigger, more defensive defenseman like Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik, who has chemistry with fellow Penguins teammate and U.S. partner Paul Martin, both coached by U.S. coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins' coach. There was the wrenching decision to leave off Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson, who had underperformed for much of the season, in favor of his younger and untested brethren. It all appears to be paying off. In January, when Poile, the Predators general manager, traded defenseman Kevin Klein from Nashville to the New York Rangers for a more mobile and offensive-minded defenseman in Michael Del Zotto, he agreed that he was putting to work the same theory as he did in picking the Olympic team. "Obviously, the less time you spend in your end, it's a good situation," Poile said, "so to have those defensemen who can either skate the puck out or who can make that first pass to forwards and transition from defense to offense, you're better than most if you're one of the best at that." With Ryan Suter (the former Predator), Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, John Carlson, Martin and Orpik, the United States has done that. Shattenkirk and Carlson each rank in the top 10 among tournament defenseman in scoring. One of the USA Hockey selection committee members, Don Waddell, said the mobile defense was a topic that came up at every meeting. When the United States lost in the gold medal game to Canada in 2010 and in 2002, both tournaments were held in North America on smaller ice surfaces. "If you look back, the U.S. Olympic team in particular has never had great success on international ice," said Waddell, the former Atlanta Thrashers general manager who served as the U.S. general manager for the 2006 Turin Olympics. "So the mandate going in was to make sure that we watch these guys to see -- this is David making sure to see we picked guys not only who could play the game but could play on big ice. A little bit of it's a guessing game but when you look at guys like Carlson and Fowler, these guys have played a lot of international games over the years on big ice surfaces whether it was world juniors or whatever it was and that was a factor going in to this that, hey, these guys have this experience, they've had success at the international level so let's forget their age and let's project how their potential's going to be come the Olympic tournament." Waddell said Poile's organizational skills and inclusiveness stood out to him. "First of all, David is one of the most organized guys I've ever dealt with, even back being in Atlanta dealing with David, David's very organized and he thinks everything through completely before he makes a decision and I think his plan coming into the process was executed to a tee," Waddell said. "Right off the bat, the first thing we brought the coaches into the meeting, which is a little unusual to have everybody together to talk about all the players and what the coaches wants are as we build and fill out the roster. He had several meetings with the coaches throughout the process and to update them where we are and to see if there was anything they felt they were missing." Waddell cited Oshie as a sort of utility man -- a penalty-killer, a shootout specialist and someone who could play on almost any line -- as being emblematic of the non-All-Star approach that has borne fruit. Poile cannot be at the tournament since he was hit by an errant puck on Feb. 7 during a morning skate in St. Paul. He suffered a broken orbital bone and broken bones in his nose, for which he underwent surgery. On Tuesday, the Predators announced he had another, somewhat exploratory surgical procedure on his eye last Friday. He currently is not doing interviews as he recovers but the Predators expect him back to work this week. Waddell said he and Poile have exchanged texts. "This is something David looked forward to, he put his heart and soul into it," Waddell said. "He put an unbelievable amount of time into it. It takes a lot of time to do his job (as Predators GM) as it is. So any time he was putting into it was personal time he was taking away from his family, and that and he was so committed to try to build the best roster he can and direct the people he had out there scouting the games. "I had so many conversations with him where he would come and say, ‘Can you go watch this guy and can you go watch that guy?' He was on top of it. He was on top of it from the day we started to the day the team was picked and even throughout until the day they left. That's why I feel bad for David."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Irsay: Pagano safe, Peyton not in picture as potential Colts GM

LeBron James: Gregg Popovich ‘factors a lot’ into 2020 Olympics decision

Cuban softens stance on superstar status of Westbrook

Ric Flair gets into Twitter fight with Panthers player over Falcons fandom

Charlotte thinks a $175M MLS stadium will help heal racial divisions

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joel Embiid is an MVP candidate

Jadeveon Clowney fined $18k for hit on Tom Brady during playoffs

Travis Kelce fined $21,615 for shoving player, calling out ref

10 best undrafted players remaining in NFL playoffs

Arizona's Allonzo Trier cleared to play after drug test comes back negative

Rodgers dealing with sickness ahead of NFC Championship Game

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Ranking the top three conferences in college basketball

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker