The way John Davidson described the city of Columbus, you’d think the new president of hockey operations for the Blue Jackets had been living in the capital city of Ohio for the past decade, not still looking for his first house there. But, Davidson has been busy during the lockout getting acquainted with the Blue Jackets organization.
“Columbus seems to be a city that’s very confident,” stated Davidson. “People who live here and work here are very high on it. It’s a busy city, there seems to be hiring in a lot of different areas, the real estate market has really come along and the restaurants are great!”
While the people of Columbus are confident about the city they live in, the same can’t be said about their sentiment towards the local NHL team. The Blue Jackets have finished with a losing record in 10 out of 11 seasons and have been a bottom dweller in the National Hockey League since their inception in 2000.
“You have to build a foundation for everything and we’re going to do it one brick at a time here in Columbus,” said Davidson. “I went through this process in St. Louis and now they’re one of the better teams in the league and they should be for a long time. What we’re going to do here is provide an entertaining brand of hockey, we’re going to work our tails off and we’re also going to build a team at the same time as we do that.”
Davidson is well respected around the NHL with an extensive and impressive hockey resume. He was a goaltender with the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers from 1973-1983, a hall of fame broadcaster, and most recently, the President of Hockey Operations for the Blues as he helped turn the franchise’s fortunes around. “My suggestion to people is if you want to jump on-board, do so and come watch the Blue Jackets grow because there are going to be some young players here that end up being great players, so you’ve got to come and grow with us.”
Some of the young talent that Davidson was referring to happened by the way of a trade. The face of the Blue Jackets franchise, Rick Nash, requested a trade last season and the team had to part ways with their star player during the offseason. When asked how he viewed the trade from the outside looking in, Davidson was mum on the subject. “I’m not ducking any questions but the trade was done before I got here. I’m looking forward to the assets that were put into place from the trade.”
Unfortunately, fans can’t watch the Blue Jackets or their young squad at the moment due to the NHL lockout. The league recently announced that the All-Star game, which was slated to be in Columbus this year, was canceled. “I’m anxious for the work stoppage to end just like everyone else is for the health of the game itself,” said Davidson. “It’s disappointing. I hope they get it fixed because business wise its good for a lot of different people, not just the players. People who enjoy hockey have a great passion for the sport and the sooner we get back playing the sooner those passions can be satisfied.”
In addition to home shopping, Davidson is staying busy scouting the Blue Jackets minor league affiliate teams and assessing the clubs talent during the lockout. “I know how big the Buckeyes are here and that’s really significant, no question. I’m going to pound the drum that this isn’t just a heck of a hockey city, but Columbus is an extremely vibrant city and I’m excited to be here.”
Jason Parks is the Owner of The Media Captain, an online media and marketing company in Columbus and contributes article content for Columbus Underground.
Photo of Davidson via bluejackets.nhl.com.