What's the Next Step for Davidson?
As we patiently wait for the NHLPA to respond to the NHL ‘s latest offer I figured this might be a good time to weigh in on what might be the next step for former Blues President John Davidson.
As most of you know, JD and his wife Diana spent last weekend touring Columbus and the Blue Jackets facility.
Sources say no real offer was made and the two sides didn’t engage in any formal contract discussions. I’m sure they’ll speak again if they haven’t already. With that said I’m sure the job is his if he wants it.
In my opinion I don’t see Davidson taking the job. Sure the idea of running another NHL club is enticing and the money would be hard to walk away from but personally I don’t see it happening.
I’ve read a comment where the situation in Columbus today is better than the one he inherited in St. Louis back in 2006. While on paper this may be true, in reality I’m not so sure.
Sure the Blues roster was slim in 2006 but the organization was already stocked with future impact players such as T.J Oshie, David Backes as well as Erik Johnson and Patrik Berglund who were drafted just days before Davidson took over. Future NHL players Ben Bishop, Ryan Reaves, Nikita Nikitin, and Roman Polak were already in the system.
The roster included Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin who the team traded for future first round picks which enabled them to draft a David Perron and Lars Eller. The team would eventually move Eller for goaltender Jaroslav Halak. They were able to move Lee Stempniak for Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen, Doug weight for Andy McDonald and so on. The Jamal Mayers trade led to the Blues acquiring goaltender Chris mason who led the Blues to a playoff appearance in 2009.
In other words there were pieces in place to allow for a quick and impressive rebuild. Somewhere in there the Blues also drafted franchise D-man Alex Pietrangelo.
The challenge in Columbus might be even steeper than the one Davidson met head on in St. Louie.
The fanbase was certainly down when Davidson took over but you really can’t compare the two hockey markets. Columbus has made the playoffs once in their 11 year existence and obviously doesn’t share the same history the Blues have.
Everyone knew the fans would return once the product on the ice improved and Davidson played a significant role in making this happen. The Blues have enjoyed packed arenas virtually every season since 1967 outside of a short time after the 2005 lockout.
The challenge of re-energizing Blue Jackets fans, on the surface, appears steeper. There are certainly passionate NHL fans in Columbus but when you consider the thriving youth hockey in St. Louis along with the Blues tradition there is little comparison as NHL cities.
Is Davidson essentially ready to start over again?
Running a franchise requires a ton of hard work, long hours, and an enormous amount of stress. Columbus does have an owner with money, an ok roster after trading away franchise player Rick Nash, and some nice prospects including Ryan Johansen and Ryan Murray.
Changes will almost be necessary right off the bat when you consider GM Scott Howsen may not be on solid ground. I will point out Davidson was very patient with GM Larry Pleau who he kept before turning things over to Doug Armstrong. He also hung on to Head Coach Mike Kitchen before making a change midway into his first season.
Going in and firing people isn’t always as easy as one may think.
Now to most hockey people, this is a challenge they’d be willing to accept. But is it the right situation for Davidson? Will a better opportunity open up down the line? Has he earned the right to wait for a better situation? Why not just take a cushy broadcasting job and call it a day? The idea that the lockout has prevented television networks from showing Davidson some love is ridiculous. This guy can name his own TV job and I feel very confident is saying he’s been contacted by multiple networks.
Again, in my opinion, I’d like to see Davidson go work for the league. There are few people outside of maybe Wayne Gretzky who have the same level of trust with both the players and the people on the business side. He’d be a tremendous ambassador for the game at a time when it might be needed the most. In a conversation I recently had with a high ranking NHL Executive, I suggested the NHL hire Davidson in such capacity. A visible job at the league level could certainly be created. He wouldn’t be jumping into a Brendan Shanahan situation that's maybe even more stressful than the Columbus job.
The league source quickly said “I’m a huge, huge fan. There is no better spokesman or ambassador for the game and there will always be a place for JD.”
Whether or not Davidson is interested remains to be seen.
All is know is this, there are few people who have the ability to help grow the game and Davidson falls in this category.
Davidson has said on a number of occasions that he wants to win and I can tell you he wants his name on the Stanley Cup. There’s a lot of work to be done before that happens in Columbus.
With Davidson having moved on the Blues are now focusing their attention on extending GM Doug Armstrong. The reigning GM of the year certainly has a lot of negotiating leverage entering the final year of his contract.
Several Blues prospects have gotten off to strong starts to their respective seasons.
Former 3nd round Dimitrij Jaskin has 10 goals and 13 points in 11 games with Moncton in the QMJHL.
Former 6th rounder Ryan Tesink has been named to the QMJHL Subway Super Series roster against Russia.
Former 2nd rounder Ty Rattie got off to a slow start with Portland before a recent four game performance helped pad his stats. He has 12 points in 10 WHL games.
Owen sound goaltender Jordon Binington (3rd rounder) is now 6-0-1 with a .934 save% and a 2.23 g.a.a in seven OHL starts.
Because of Cardinals baseball Blues Buzz has been moved this week to Saturday at 2:00 live from the Watson rd. Johnny Mac’s location. Broadcaster John Kelly will join me and the show can be heard live on am 590 the Fan.
More to come,
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