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Poile misses out on NHL’s inaugural GM of the Year honor…

Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile, known as one of the best GM’s of the past decade, will not be known as the best GM of the past year.

The NHL handed out it’s inaugural GM of the Year Award today and it went to the Phoenix Coyotes’ Don Maloney.

Poile and the Washington Capitals’ George McPhee were also in the running.

The finalists were announced back on May 6 and there had been little debate on who lead the way. Maloney led the Coyotes into the playoffs for the first time since 2002, had the league’s best (and most surprising) goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov and made a bunch of what proved to be brilliant moves at the trade deadline, all culminating into the fourth best record in the mighty Western Conference.

But, for some, the conspiracy rumors rage on.

After a bitter legal battle with Jim Balsille and Make it Seven, the NHL assumed control of the franchise and Phoenix went from a cash-strapped non-traditional market franchise to a wheeling-and-dealing one at the trade deadline. They brought in young star Wojtek Wolski from Colorado, former Coyote Derek Morris from Boston, veteran blueliner Mathieu Schneider from Vancouver, Lee Stempniak from Toronto (who resurrected his career after the trade) and a couple others. This was where the conspiracy theories truly begun. How can a team who draws 8,000 a night (less than half of capacity) afford to go out and get four recognizable names for a couple low-end guys and a handful of draft picks? Where is that money coming from?

(Well, the answer is “the NHL” but that was supposed to be a rhetorical question.)

Now, nobody can argue the job Head Coach Dave Tippet has done. Let’s be honest with ourselves, he turned a rag tag group of guys into a playoff contender through the belief they could do it. And do it they did. Tippet deserves the Jack Adams Award come June 23 in Las Vegas. But Don Maloney as GM of the Year, in a year where he was bankrolled by the league itself…. I’m not so sure about that.

It’s a good thing (in a way) they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. If anything, that proves there’s no conspiracy going on in the desert. After all, would the Commissioner of the NHL have handed the most prized trophy in sport to his own captain and engraved his own name on the Cup as owner?

But, alas, the Coyotes had a good year that fans down in Arizona can rally around. No one can take that from them, whether you believe in a conspiracy or not.

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