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Team USA GM David Poile can't go to Sochi after injury

Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

David Poile is still recovering after being struck in the head by a puck during a Predators game.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- David Poile earned a chance to be general manager of the U.S. hockey team after paying his dues as an NHL general manager for three-plus decades and giving up a lot of his free time to help USA Hockey.

Since last summer, he spent countless hours trying to shape a roster that would give the Americans a shot to win Olympic gold for the first time since he witnessed what's known as the "Miracle on Ice," in 1980.

Poile, though, will not be in the stands or a luxury box at the Sochi Games to see if the team he helped set up will have success.

The Nashville Predators GM and former Washington Capitals executive got hit in the face by a puck during an NHL game last week, a freak accident that will force him to watch the U.S. go for gold on TV from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

"It's just not advisable for him to come to Sochi with everything he still has to deal with," USA Hockey executive director Jim Johannson announced Monday night after the team's first practice in Russia.

Poile is recovering from surgery and stitches he needed on his face after a deflected puck hit him while he was standing in a tunnel behind the Predators' bench in Minnesota.

He led a selection committee that picked the Olympic team after months of work, and his role during the 12-day tournament would've been largely behind the scenes in a supporting role.

Johannson said USA Hockey will keep in "very good," and "constant," contact with Poile during the Olympics.

"To hear that he had been hurt and to know that he's not going to be coming over is a huge disappointment," U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said.

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero will take over as acting general manager in Sochi.

"Having worked with Dave for eight years in Nashville, and knowing, as I told the team, how much passion, time and effort he has put into putting this team together, it's disappointing," Shero said.

Poile won the Lester Patrick award for his contributions to hockey in the U.S. in 2001 and is a three-time finalist for NHL GM of the year.

He has also filled various roles with USA Hockey over the years.

"We're going to miss David as a friend, probably more than anything, but we're going to miss a guy that has been so dedicated to our program," Johannson said.

He was the associate GM for the U.S. at the Olympics four years ago, when he assisted Brian Burke after he dealt with tragedy.

Burke's 21-year-old son, Brendan, died Feb. 5, 2010, in a car accident. He didn't participate in the opening ceremony at the Vancouver Games, saying he wasn't in the mood to celebrate soon after burying his son

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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