Today our division rival Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Davidson as their president of hockey operations. This was the same role he held for the Blues for six years before he agreed to a buyout of his contract earlier this month.
Though hockey seems very, very far away, and a hire at the top of the food chain may not be entirely glamorous, this is a very good hockey move for the struggling Blue Jackets. Since the 2007-2008 season, the Blue Jackets have had only one winning season. The Blue Jackets also finished either 4th or 5th in the division each of those seasons. Coming of of a dismal 29-win season, it was smart for the Blue Jackets to make a bigger change at the organizational level. Davidson was credited with patience in building a winner again in St. Louis, and is one of the most connected people in the hockey world. With his knowledge and connections it seems like he could successfully build a winner in Ohio as well.
Davidson was extremely popular and successful here in St. Louis, but agreed to his buyout in response to the change in Blues’ ownership. Davidson spoke very highly of the Blue Jackets’ ownership group, saying: “You think about the organization itself and how much they want to win … you can see they want something very, very badly,” he said. “The ownership group is just a great group.”
There is no doubt the Blue Jackets’ ownership is tired of finishing last in the division. That being said, this is one tough division to compete in. With St. Louis and Nashville competing on a consistent basis, and perennial winners in Detroit and Chicago, it will truly be an uphill trek for Davidson and the front office he will hire. It seems as if NHL hockey will never resume, so it pains me to talk about such a long term situation, but Davidson’s experience will (eventually) help the Blue Jackets become competitive. The central is already undoubtedly one of the toughest divisions in the league. With Davidson’s presence in Columbus it could become the best.
Davidson added: “This is going to be a really, really good hockey club as we march along.”