John Davidson is going back to the Rangers organization he has been synonymous with for much of his hockey career.
Davidson, 66, was hired as team president on Friday hours after leaving his post as president for hockey operations with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He returns to New York, where he spent parts of eight seasons as a Rangers goaltender and was a television analyst for almost a decade.
“The opportunity of rejoining the Rangers organization and returning home to New York, where my family and I have spent so many wonderful years, was one I simply could not pass up,” Davidson said.
“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.”
The man known affectionately as J. D. succeeds Glen Sather, a Hall of Fame executive who shifted to an advisory role under the owner James L. Dolan. Davidson will oversee the hockey operations department, and Jeff Gorton will remain the general manager.
Dolan called it “the start of a new and exciting chapter” in franchise history.
Davidson was with the Blue Jackets for seven seasons, helping turn an also-ran into a team that made the postseason four times. Columbus won its first playoff series this spring.
“He helped us forge a winning culture based on preparation, hard work, accountability and honesty,” the 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.”
The Columbus owner John P. McConnell called Davidson’s return to his roots an “extraordinary circumstance for him and his family.” After saying upon hiring him that Davidson was the perfect person to lead Columbus’s hockey operations department, McConnell believes this stretch has proved him correct.
“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.”
The Rangers are in the midst of a youth movement spearheaded by Gorton, who took over for Sather as general manager in 2015.
Davidson could be only the first domino to fall in an uncertain off-season for Columbus, which went all-in at the trade deadline and could have as many as four prominent players leave in free agency.
The general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, takes over Davidson’s job as alternate governor, but it is uncertain what title he will assume. It is possible he will become president for hockey operations responsibilities, with Bill Zito promoted from assistant general manager.
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