Columbus Blue Jackets: 5 Reasons John Davidson Can Help the Team
Back at the beginning of the month, former St. Louis Blues' president John Davidson resigned from his position with the team to pursue other interests.
What team the former goaltender chooses has yet to be decided, but one thing is clear: Davidson has shown a lot of love towards the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In an interview with CBSSports.com, Davidson had nothing but good things to say about the young organization and believes their future is bright.
“If (my next stop) is Columbus,” Davidson said, “I can tell you this: That hockey club is better than the one we took over in St. Louis. That club was way, way down the ladder. But this Blue Jackets team is not that far off. There are some pieces there to work with, absolutely. They’ve got some real players there.”
As excited as Davidson seems about the possibility of coming to Columbus, the Blue Jackets should share that same level of optimism.
The former broadcaster can bring a lot to the table for a front office that needs a definite shakeup to improve from finishing dead last in the league standings last year.
Columbus should do whatever it takes to bring an experienced hockey mind to the Jackets and here are five reasons he is a good fit that can help this young roster.
Past Success with Young Lineup
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After Davidson took over hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues in 2006, the team went on a rough stretch of only one playoff appearance in six seasons. In the team's one playoff appearance, they were swept by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round.
Although they have struggled, Davidson helped build a strong foundation from the ground up, creating a strong youth movement that could lead the team in years to come.
Drafting players like Patrik Berglund (2006), David Perron (2007), and Alex Pietrangelo (2008), the Blues slowly became a sleeper in the central division.
During his tenure, Davidson also brought in talented youth through trades, acquiring such names as Chris Stewart as well as the two-headed goaltending monster of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak.
Last season, the Blues' investments started to pay off as the team put together its best record in franchise history, won the Central division for the first time since 2000, and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blue Jackets are following the same blueprint the Blues established a few years ago, as they have stock piled draft picks and filled their roster with talented youngsters.
As mentioned in the previous slide, Davidson stated that the Jackets are farther along than the Blues were when he took over, meaning that with him on board, Columbus could be turning the corner faster than some think.
No More Questionable Decisions by Scott Howson
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Since taking over as general manager for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007, Scott Howson has made some clearly questionable decisions that have stalled the Jackets' progression as a franchise.
One example that comes to mind was Howson's drafting of Russian rookie Nikita Filatov in the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft.
Filatov showed flashes of talent in the first couple of years with the team, but refused to crash the net for rebounds, later saying "Filly don't do rebounds," when watching film with coaches. There would continue to be issues with him playing in Russia, until he was traded to Ottawa.
Then there was the trade for center Jeff Carter. Howson vowed to have the most aggressive offseason in Jackets history heading into the 2011 draft. Howson traded away the team's first-round pick and talented youngster Jakub Voracek to Philadelphia for Carter's services.
Carter's time in Columbus was short lived as the trade rumors followed him, bringing distractions to the Jackets locker room until he was traded in February for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick (one of Howson's good moves).
If John Davidson were to come to Columbus, he would want complete control over hockey operations, essentially taking over roster moves from Howson. Davidson has shown with his time in St. Louis that he has a special eye for young talent.
The Jackets clearly want Davidson and have already stated that he will have complete control of hockey operations if he chooses Columbus.
No one is perfect when it comes to choosing players, but if Davidson were to relieve Howson of his roster duties, the mistakes would most likely decrease.
The Front Office Needs a Major Shakeup
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After reaching the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2008-2009, the Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled to get back.
In three straight seasons since, the Jackets have missed out on the playoffs, finishing fifth in the Central Division each year, with their worst season coming last year when they finished last in the league with only 65 points.
With most NHL franchises, if a team struggles to return to the playoffs and there are no signs of things getting better, there are usually changes to the roster, coaching staff and front office.
The Jackets took care of two of those personnel areas, firing two coaches during that time and making several different rosters moves in the offseasons. However, no drastic changes were made in the front office.
Howson and President Mike Priest remain in the Jackets front office, even though the fans of Columbus have called for both of them to be relieved of their duties.
Unfortunately for Jacket fans, team owner John McConnell has made no notion that Howson and Priest will be shown the door.
If the Jackets cannot make the fans happy by firing Howson and Priest, then maybe they could make up for it by bringing Davidson aboard, at least according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
"For fans, Davidson is like your favorite uncle. He has a way of making people feel as if everything is going to be OK. He exudes intelligence and confidence. He gives hope to the hopeless, frustrated masses, many of whom gathered outside Nationwide Arena last winter to protest the direction of the club. Really, it can't get much uglier than last season in Columbus."
Bringing in a big front office name like Davidson and moving Howson away from hockey operations is the major shakeup that the Jackets front office needs.
Davidson and Craig Patrick Would Form a Favorable Duo
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In December 2011, the Blue Jackets hired Craig Patrick to serve as the team's Senior Advisor to Hockey Operations.
Patrick has quite a favorable resume. He was the assistant coach for Team USA for the "Miracle on Ice," and was also the general manager for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1989 to 2006, where he won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
Patrick came to Columbus and so far in his short tenure, he has fixed some problems and has made progress in moving the Blue Jackets forward.
He served as a helping voice in drafting defenseman Ryan Murray and during the Rick Nash trade saga.
Patrick has shown that he can be successful in the front office and if John Davidson were to take over hockey operations, having Patrick as his advisor would bring a plethora of experience that the Jackets need, which would greatly help the future of the Jackets franchise.
Not only would they help progress youngsters like Ryan Johansen, John Moore, and Matt Calvert, but they would also help bring in the necessary pieces to make Columbus a Western Conference contender.
The Jackets may not turn the corner right away, but with Patrick and Davidson at the helm, the time to get there will come more quickly.
The Timing Is Perfect
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As sad as it may seem, there is a possibility that the 2012-2013 season will be cancelled in its entirety.
Earlier in the week, it seemed like the owners and the NHL Players' Association were taking steps in the right direction when the NHL made a 50/50 proposal. However, that was halted as the NHLPA offered up three counter offers that were quickly rejected.
With another week of games cancelled yesterday, the possibility of no NHL this year gets eerily closer and closer.
If Davidson were to come to Columbus, he would have plenty of down time with no hockey being played to get settled in and start to figure out which steps need to be taken whenever the lockout is lifted.
At times when hockey is being played, new front office hires never seem to have enough time to get their feet wet before things quickly begin to speed up with the season starting.
With things going faster than one might want, rash decisions can be made that one may later regret.
Davidson would have time to evaluate every part of the team to make sure the players on the roster are right for the team moving forward.
Unfortunately for fans, the lockout remaining in place could be good for the Jackets front office.