UPDATE: Davidson has been officially named President of the New York Rangers. You can see our updated story here.
John Davidson has resigned as President of Hockey Operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and it appears he is coming home to succeed Glen Sather as Team President.
Davidson spent the last seven seasons as President of Hockey Operations for the Columbus Blue Jackets. During his tenure in Columbus, Davidson steered the Jackets to the postseason four times, including the franchise’s first playoff victory this season against the Tampa Bay Lightning in what could go down as one of the biggest upsets in Stanley Cup Playoffs history.
Davidson’s time in Columbus saw him make a number of significant trades, which saw talents such as Brandon Saad, Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones, and Matt Duchene join the organization.
It should be noted that Panarin arrived in Columbus in the deal that sent Saad back to Chicago, and Ryan Johansen was dealt in the Jones deal. These transactions were more of a function of general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen, but it speaks to the fact that in his role Davidson was supportive of swinging for the fences to improve the team, especially at the most recent trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets also built through the draft, with core pieces like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Wennberg, Zach Weresnski and Pierre-Luc Dubois all arriving in Columbus on Davidson’s watch.
Prior to his time in Columbus, Davidson held the role of President of Hockey Operations with the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2012. While he was at the helm in St. Louis, Davidson saw an influx of talent through the draft that includes Lars Eller, Ian Cole, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Colton Parayko among others. He also saw the team acquire then up-and-coming defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from Colorado in a deal centered around Erik Johnson heading to the Avalanche.
Davidson became a household name as a Hall of Fame broadcaster who served as Sam Rosen’s broadcast partner on MSG, beginning in 1983 after he retired from hockey due to injury. He spent eight seasons with the Rangers as a player, the most memorable being the 1978-79 campaign which saw the Blueshirts come short in the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadians.
Davidson also entered the national spotlight as a lead color commentator for ABC, CBC, Fox, and NBC, and he is often considered one of the top TV analysts in the history of the sport. His vast knowledge of the game earned Davidson a spot on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee, and he currently serves as the committee’s chairman.
It appears that Davidson, 66, was the Blueshirts’ top candidate from the start, and it would explain why things have remained quiet. Aside from the rumors surrounding Steve Yzerman who recently was named general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, the list of possible candidates has been short.
Davidson is 10 years younger than Sather, but it will be interesting what the long-term plan is for JD. I’d imagine that plan will be dictated by how the team performs in the next few years.
The Rangers are looking to take the next steps in their rebuild, and this could be a situation where Davidson sees the rebuild through while trying to find someone younger who can succeed him. This is a distinct possibility, as Sather was 56 when he joined the organization, and he remained in that role for 19 years.
For now we play the waiting game for official confirmation, but it appears the Rangers have crossed off an important position on their checklist. The changes that follow remain to be seen, but it won’t be surprising if and when JD makes moves to put his mark on the organization.