Gary Bettman calls on fans to boo him and honors David Poile in NHL draft opener

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman brought one of the league’s most popular general managers onstage to open the draft on Wednesday night.

That may have helped keep Bettman’s traditional booing a little quieter than usual. David Poile, the longest-serving and most successful general manager in league history, is retiring Friday after overseeing the 1997 formation of the Nashville Predators as an expansion franchise.

Bettman then informed fans that they weren’t going to boo him by their usual standards.

“They can do better,” Bettman said. As the boos grew louder, the inspector said, “Now talk.”

Bettman then introduced Nashville captain Roman Josi and retired Predators legend Pekka Rinne, who was selected in the eighth round to present a gift in 2004. For Poile they released a blue Gibson guitar.

“You’re the reason this place is called Smashville. That’s why we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” said Josi to the man who brought him to Nashville in 2008 as the 38th pick. “We hope you enjoy your retirement.”

Poile thanked Josi and Rinne for the gift and Bettman for the introduction. He said he came to Music City in 1997 with a vision to make Nashville a prosperous hockey town.

Mission accomplished. Nashville hosted the 2016 NHL All-Star Game weekend and the Predators reached the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals and won the Presidents’ Trophy for the 2017-18 season. This is the second NHL draft to be contested at Bridgestone Arena; the first was in 2003.

The Predators also hosted a Stadium Series game in February 2022. Poile thanked Nashville fans for making Music City one of the most successful and passionate cities in the NHL.

“And as I pass the torch to Barrydiot, I have every confidence that the best is yet to come for the Nashville Predators,” Poile said. “May this year’s draft class be a great success. Good luck to all players and all teams. Nashville, thank you for the greatest 26 years of my hockey career.”

Poile Appreciation Evening

Every team made sure to say something nice about Poile, which is easy for someone popular across the league and coming in at his 40th draft.

Keith Jones, now president of the Philadelphia Flyers, thanked Poile for picking him in the seventh round in 1988. That was during Poile’s first tenure as GM of the Washington Capitals.

This was Poile’s 26th draft with the Predators. Only Harry Sinden, with 28 drafts with Boston, and Lou Lamoriello, who oversaw 27 drafts with the New Jersey Devils, have had more seasons as general manager of a single NHL team.

Poile, 73, ends his career as the leading NHL GM with 3,075 games and 1,533 wins in Washington and Nashville.


Dallas’ Jim Nill took home the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award. The award was announced in the first round.

Nill received 12 first-place votes and was named on 25 of 40 ballots, earning him 91 points. Don Sweeney of Boston finished second, level with Nill with 12 first-place votes and 83 points. Florida’s GM Bill Zito was third, followed by New Jersey’s Tom Fitzgerald and Seattle’s Ron Francis.

The Stars reached the Western Conference Finals for the second time in four seasons, finishing with 108 points. That was the highest since 2015-16. Nill just celebrated his 10th anniversary since taking over as the Stars’ general manager in April. He won this award for the first time after coming third twice before.

Goalkeeper apologizes

First, Montreal goaltender Carey Price forgot the surname of the Canadiens’ first pick at No. 5 overall and needed help to complete the pick of defenseman David Reinbacher.

Price apologized on social media, calling his faux pas “embarrassing.”

Reinbacher called it a bit of a shock.

“I guess they said it was a joke or something or it was planned,” Reinbacher said. “I’m just happy to be selected by the Montreal organization.”

Then a former goalkeeper had his own problems. Pekka Rinne, who has his own statue in front of Bridgestone Arena for his Predators career, could blame the noisy crowd of fans on the court before the draft.

Rinne joined Nashville captain Roman Josi in announcing the Predators’ second draft first-round pick at number 24. Rinne had no problem with the first name Trevor, but paused before saying Molendyk. Rinne later apologized personally to Molendyk.


Two players selected in the first round have fathers who played in the NHL, and defenseman Oliver Bonk and forward Gabriel Perreault ended up playing back-to-back.

Philadelphia took Bonk at No. 22. His father, Radek, was a first-round pick in 1994 by Ottawa at No. 3 overall. They were the seventh father-son duo to be selected in the first round of a draft in the past five years.

Perreault was following a serious family tradition when the New York Rangers took him 23rd. His father Yanic played 14 seasons from 1993-94 to 2007-08, and his brother Jacob was the 27th pick overall in Anaheim’s 2020 draft.


The NHL continues to seek talent from around the world, and teams selected 14 players born outside of North America in the first round. That’s a small drop from the 17 a year ago.

Canada led all countries with 13 first-rounders, followed by Sweden with six and the United States with five.


Left wing Zach Benson, the 13th Buffalo pick, was asked if he did karaoke at Music City. He made it clear that he’s not a good singer, but he knows what song he would choose if forced onto the stage.

“I would have to say ‘tequila’ because it’s just a word,” Benson said.

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