John Davidson steps down as President of Hockey Operations for the Blue Jackets

John Davidson (Photo: WBNS-10TV)
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John Davidson resigned as president of hockey operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday after the New York Rangers requested and received permission to talk to him for a similar position.

Davidson has been long considered the heir apparent to Glen Sather as Rangers president, a move that could become official before the day is out. He spent parts of eight seasons as a Rangers goaltender and was a TV analyst for them for almost a decade.

Columbus owner John P. McConnell said the possibility of Davidson "returning to his roots in New York, where he spent three decades as a player and broadcaster, is an extraordinary circumstance for him and his family."

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Davidson has been with the Blue Jackets the past seven seasons, helping turn an NHL also-ran into a regular playoff contender. Columbus won its first playoff series in this spring.

"He helped us forge a winning culture based on preparation, hard work, accountability and honesty," Blue Jackets President Mike Priest said. "He set the tone and hired talented people that put in place a plan to build the Blue Jackets through the draft and player development with the end goal being a team that could compete and have success at the highest-level on a yearly basis."

McConnell said in 2011 that Davidson was the perfect person to lead Columbus' hockey operations department, and seven years later believes he was correct. The Blue Jackets made the playoffs in four of Davidson's seven seasons.

"He joined our team at a very difficult time and led a transformation that has resulted in consistent winning and appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs," McConnell said. "J.D. is a man of great character and compassion and I completely understand his interest in the unique opportunity before him."

Davidson was immediately thought of as the top candidate to replace Sather when the longtime executive shifted to an advisory role. He'll likely oversee New York's hockey operations department while Jeff Gorton remains general manager.

This is the first domino to fall in an uncertain offseason for Columbus, which went all-in at the trade deadline and could have as many as four prominent players leave in free agency.

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen takes over Davidson's job as alternate governor, but it's uncertain what title he'll assume. It's possible he'll become president of hockey operations responsibilities, with Bill Zito promoted from assistant general manager.

Statement from John Davidson

“It has been my great pleasure and honor to serve as the president of hockey operations for the Columbus Blue Jackets and I offer my sincerest thanks to the ownership group led by John P. McConnell, Mike Priest and all of the great people I have had the pleasure of working with over the past seven years. I also want to thank our fans and the people of this community who have been so kind to my family and me during our time here. Columbus is truly a special place.

“I have come to love this organization and the city. There was only one opportunity that I would’ve considered leaving for, and the one before me now is that opportunity as I spent 30 years with the Rangers as a player and broadcaster and have strong ties to that team and the city of New York.

“I am extremely proud of the work we’ve done over the past seven years and know that one of the challenges before me now will be competing against this group moving forward. On behalf of my wife, Diana, and our family, I offer my sincerest thanks and gratitude to all of you for allowing us to be Blue Jackets and call Columbus home.”

Statement from Columbus Blue Jackets President Mike Priest

“The New York Rangers recently sought permission from our organization to speak with John Davidson about serving as their team president. That permission was granted and today John has resigned his position as the president of hockey operations and alternate governor with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“Personally, I want to thank J.D. for his friendship and the many contributions that he and his wife, Diana, have made to the Blue Jackets and throughout our community. He helped us forge a winning culture based on preparation, hard work, accountability and honesty. He set the tone and hired talented people that put in place a plan to build the Blue Jackets through the draft and player development with the end goal being a team that could compete and have success at the highest-level on a yearly basis.

“The winning culture that now is entrenched in all of us will continue under the direction of Jarmo Kekalainen, who will now serve as an alternate governor in addition to general manager, and the leaders within our hockey operations department. We remain committed to improving on the successes we’ve had in recent seasons with the goal of bringing a Stanley Cup championship to Columbus.”

Statement from Blue Jackets Owner/Governor John P. McConnell

“When we hired John Davidson in October 2012, I said I thought he was the perfect person to lead our hockey operations efforts. Nearly seven years later, I believe I was right. He joined our team at a very difficult time and led a transformation that has resulted in consistent winning and appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. J.D. is a man of great character and compassion and I completely understand his interest in the unique opportunity before him. I know leaving Columbus is a difficult decision for him as he has a genuine love of our community and organization, but the possibility of returning to his roots in New York, where he spent three decades as a player and broadcaster, is an extraordinary circumstance for him and his family.

“On behalf of my family, our ownership group and the entire Blue Jackets organization, I want to thank J.D. and wish him, Diana and their family nothing but the best in the years to come.”

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