SBD/October 24, 2012/Franchises

Blue Jackets To Hire John Davidson As President Of Hockey Operations

Davidson had $6M left on his contract with the Blues when the parties split ways
Former Blues President John Davidson "is close to an agreement to join the Blue Jackets" as President of Hockey Operations, according to Aaron Portzline of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Sources said that an announcement "could come as soon as today." Davidson "would serve directly under" Owner John McConnell, "giving him authority" over GM Scott Howson, Assistant GM Chris MacFarland and the rest of the hockey operations department. If Davidson’s time in St. Louis is "an indication, he will not shy away from adding seasoned hockey executives." Current Blue Jackets President Mike Priest, who has held that title since '07, "likely will retain his seat on the NHL Board of Governors but is expected to focus on the business side of the organization." The Blue Jackets "spoke to Davidson in May, when a window in his contract with the Blues allowed him to meet with other teams." Davidson then met with team officials on Oct. 12 and 13, "only a week after his contract buyout with the Blues was complete." The Blue Jackets "made sense as a destination for Davidson from the time the Blues were sold to Tom Stillman in early May." Stillman "wanted to pare down the front office, which, under Davidson, had become crowded and expensive." At $2M per season, "Davidson was the biggest paycheck of the group" (DISPATCH.com, 10/24). In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford notes with three years and approximately $6M left on his contract, Davidson and the Blues this month "mutually agreed to an undisclosed buyout" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/24).

RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: In Columbus, Michael Arace writes the Blue Jackets "have interspersed brief spells of credibility with long spans of ineptitude and folly in their 13 years on ice." If Davidson "shows up at the nadir, he is just in time." His job will be "to reverse a long history of mismanagement." McConnell and Priest "must be credited for recognizing the depth of the problem, acting on a solution and getting the right man for the job." Davidson "craves challenges," and he "has one" with the Blue Jackets. He "cannot fix this thing overnight, but if he can get it running in the right direction, he will find a good, solid hockey market ready to take the ride" (DISPATCH.com, 10/24). ESPN.com's Craig Custance tweeted, "It's hard to get too excited about front-office moves in the midst of a lockout but the hiring of JD by CBJ could be a franchise-changer" (TWITTER.com, 10/24).
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