Norman R. "Bud" Poile was a fine player and a superlative hockey executive. Success was a recurring theme in his career both on and off the ice. Poile's determination and positive outlook won him a legion of followers and admirers during his exemplary career.
Born in Fort William, Ontario, Poile was a local hero with a fine scoring touch and a deadly accurate shot. He was leading the Thunder Bay League in scoring when the Toronto Maple Leafs signed him to a professional contract in November 1942. He led Toronto in playoff scoring in 1943 and formed the effective "Flying Forts" line with fellow Fort William natives Gus Bodnar and Gaye Stewart.
After serving in World War II, he returned to Toronto and won a Stanley Cup in 1947. Poile seemed set in Toronto but was stunned when he was one of the "five ordinary players" sent to Chicago for superstar centre Max Bentley. Poile went on to play for five of the Original Six teams, the lone exception being Montreal.
In 1950, Poile began the second stage of his pro career as coach of the Tulsa Oilers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He then moved into the Detroit organization and ran their Glace Bay team in the Maritime Senior League. The next year Poile began a nine-year run coaching the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he won three league titles and was named executive-of-the-year by The Hockey News in 1953. During this time he developed a close relationship with Jack Adams who was grooming Poile as his successor in Detroit.
When Adams stepped down, the Red Wings opted for former star Sid Abel instead. Poile continued his run of success in the WHL with the San Francisco Seals, winning the league championship and attracting crowds of 10,000 to the Cow Palace.
When the NHL expanded in 1967, Poile was finally granted his big league opportunity as general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers. He played a major role in forming the nucleus of the future Stanley Cup champions by drafting or trading for players like Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent.
He took over the GM position for the expansion Vancouver Canucks in 1970 and guided the team until 1973 when he moved to the World Hockey Association as executive vice-president. In 1976 he returned to the minors to begin an eight-year term as the Commissioner of the Central Hockey League (CHL). During the 1983-84 season, then International Hockey League (IHL) head Jack Riley resigned and Poile took over giving himself two leagues to run in the short term. Later that year Poile was forced to suspend the operations of the CHL but ran the IHL until he retired in 1989. That same year he was presented the Lester patrick trophy in recognition of the model work he had done in establishing the IHL as a solid breeding ground for NHL talent. When he left the "I", seven of the ten teams were the top affiliates of an NHL club.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.