David Poile delivered an apology to Bobby Ryan on Friday. Poile apologized on behalf of Brian Burke for Burke’s degrading comments regarding Ryan’s playing style. Burke, known for his outspoken opinions, was one of the members on the Team USA selection committee. His comments gave fire to a controversial Team USA selection process.
Poile has been at the forefront of the drama that’s unfolded over the past week. As the general manager of the Olympic hockey team, he’s solely responsible for all of the major decisions. In my opinion, Poile has failed handling the Ryan situation and the Team USA selection process. Even worse was the apology Poile gave to Ryan in a conference call with the media on Friday.
As an individual who’s been working in NHL executive offices since the 1970’s, Poile should have enough experience to handle a dubious situation. Despite his seasoned resume, Poile’s apology was questionable at best. Poile gave many conflicting statements, especially in regards to the comments made by Brian Burke about Ryan.
Kevin Allen of USA Today wrote an article on Friday about the Poile conference call. In the interview, Poile said, “When I asked all of our committee to give me their final roster, he [Burke] had Bobby Ryan on his team.”
This statement conflicts with what TSN’s Darren Dreger said on NHL Network. Dreger said, “Brian Burke was not alone in terms of those who weren’t in support of having Bobby Ryan on this team. He [Ryan] did not get one single vote. It’s just unfortunate that he [Ryan] had to get ridiculed in the process, but I can assure you that was not Brian Burke’s intent.”Poile said that Burke voted for Ryan to be on the roster. Dreger said that no one had Ryan on their roster, and this would include Burke. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Since Poile is trying to repair his and Team USA’s relationship with Ryan, Poile would seem to be the one who has something to lose in this conflict of information. Dreger has nothing to gain by saying no one on the committee wanted Ryan to be on the USA squad. Poile seemed to say this only to make Ryan feel better about himself.
Poile should be intelligent enough to know that anything said in the USA committee meetings questioning Ryan’s character would hit the public eye. After all, controversy attracts media attention. Poile made a devastating mistake by allowing unprecedented access to hockey columnists Kevin Allen and Scott Burnside of ESPN. Obviously, Poile didn’t realize this until after the fact.
According to Kevin Allen’s USA Today article about the conference call: “Poile said the committee members didn’t have a clear understanding of how media members were going to present the information they gathered. Poile said, ‘What goes on in the room should stay in the room. This was a characterization on a whole, [but] that was not a characterization of what actually happened.”
Any athlete learns at a young age, what’s said in the locker room stays in the locker room. If Poile was uncertain about how information would be presented to the public, he should’ve never allowed media access to these meeting for four months. What did he think would be written by Allen and Burnside? How could Poile not see this coming?
Burke’s most damning comments about Ryan showed up in Scott Burnside’s ESPN article about the selection process: “He’s [Ryan] not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary,” said Burke. “It’s never going to be in his vocabulary. He can’t spell intense.”
In his apology, Poile stated many of the quotes printed in the Allen and Burnside articles were taken out of context. How can Burke’s words about Ryan’s intensity be taken any other way? Burke’s comments belittled Ryan’s reputation. Poile seems to want to make us believe things were taken out of context because he’s trying to amend his mistake of allowing this information to reach the public.
When it comes to how the U.S. roster was chosen and the media access allowed, Poile made some major mistakes in my opinion. But if he wasn’t truthful in his apology, this is an even bigger blunder. This controversy may only be the beginning of many issues for Poile. U.S. fans aren’t happy with many of the players omitted from the roster. Bobby Ryan is only one of them. If Team USA fails to produce acceptable results in Sochi, Poile will be crucified by the USA hockey fan base.