The St. Louis Blues owe a small debt of gratitude to John Davidson for putting them back on the map. Now, he is on the move again, looking to rebuild yet another franchise.
The St. Louis Blues know the value that John Davidson can bring to a franchise. He is a high character person that looks to build an organization from the ground up with quality people.
Davidson has a decent eye for talent, guiding the Blues from obscurity back to semi-relevance. He is also a decent businessman, knowing the value of players and draft picks depending on a team’s current position.
Davidson was one of the main architects of the Blues organization heading into this decade. He became the team’s president and de facto general manager in June of 2006.
Larry Pleau did stay on to handle the more mundane portions of the job. He ultimately answered to Davidson though.
It was nothing close to an overnight turnaround. The Blues were under .500 in both of Davidson’s first two seasons in control.
However, there was an immediate change. The Blues worst season since 1978-79 came just prior to Davidson.
He also had the courage to let Mike Kitchen go early in his tenure and bring in Andy Murray. Murray’s attention to detail grew tiresome for the core group of that team after awhile, but it was just what they needed in those first couple years.
Murray would help lead that 2007-08 team back to the playoffs. It took one of the most remarkable second half runs we have seen prior to 2018-19 to make it, but they made it.
Davidson also surrounded himself with people that knew how to draft. Whether you give credit to Davidson, Pleau or someone on the staff, the Blues had some quite good drafts under their watch.
The main complaint from fans will always be missing out on Jonathan Toews in 2006. Even so, the drafts under Davidson produced plenty of NHL players.
Erik Johnson, Ian Cole, Lars Eller, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo, Jake Allen, Jori Lehtera, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Binnington, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko were all drafted under that leadership group. Some of those guys lasted longer than others, but there are still plenty of names in that group that form the backbone of this current team.
Davidson also brought in Doug Armstrong. Whether you like him or not, Armstrong has helped guide the Blues to their longest successful streak in franchise history in terms of points.
Beyond the on ice product he helped put together, Davidson was great at meeting with fans. After such a downturn with the sale of the team, fans, especially the ones that can afford suites and the like, needed a little smile and handshake from someone with Davidson’s personality. As much as we don’t like to admit it, it is not just winning that helps put butts in seats.
The odd thing about Davidson is, whether by his own design or that of ownership groups, he never seems to stay long enough for the vision to be fully seen. For the Blues, he departed just before the 2012-13 season, which was the second season out of six in a row that the Blues made the playoffs and averaged over 100 points (the lockout season still would have averaged over 100 points if it was a full season).
Davidson almost immediately went to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Not long after being in the Buckeye state, he brought former Blues European scout, Jarmo Kekalainen as the team’s general manager.
Like he did with the Blues, Davidson smoothed things over with a dwindling fan base and put a better product on the ice too. Again, it was not immediate, but the Blue Jackets made their second ever postseason appearance with Davidson in charge.
After a couple more tough seasons, the Blue Jackets finished with franchise highs in wins and points in 2016-17. They made the playoffs three straight seasons before Big John headed further east.
However, also like he did with the Blues, Davidson is moving on. Seeing the rebuilding job done, he is now looking to fix the many things that ail another former team of his, the New York Rangers.
Davidson played and broadcasted for the blueshirts for many years. Now, he is going to try to make them contenders again.
Like in both other team scenarios, the cupboard is not completely bare, but there are some bad contracts and personalities that need to be weeded out. The Rangers can likely count on Davidson to do just that.
The main question now is whether Davidson will be done wandering if/when he fixes the Rangers or if another team will lure him away. He seems to be like one of those guys that fixes up and restores old cars, but never hangs around to see them win the prize at the show.
At least he is still out in the Eastern Conference. If his track record says anything it says the Blues did not want him fixing up any teams they have to face regularly.