John Davidson: "We're going to do this the right way"

The Blue Jackets' new president of hockey operations has a game plan, and he's going to stick to it

Wednesday, 10.24.2012 / 3:58 PM
Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Davidson didn't want to borrow the analogy from his days in St. Louis, but it was too appropriate to ignore.

At his introductory press conference inside the Founders Club at Nationwide Arena, the affable broadcaster-turned-executive vowed to lay a foundation for the Columbus Blue Jackets as he takes on a new role.

Davidson, 59, was named the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations this afternoon in a newly-created role. He will assume full autonomy and authority over the hockey operations department, team president Mike Priest said.

If today is to serve as the first day of a new chapter, it is symbolic with the first brick being laid. The process begins now, Davidson said, and his team will be armed with a plan he knows will lead to success.

And one major part of the team's success is already in place, Davidson said: the Columbus community. Throughout his hockey career, Davidson has seen what passionate cities can do to invigorate a franchise -- and he sees many positive signs and indicators that central Ohio fits that mold.

"In coming here over the years, you learn what hockey means to communities," Davidson said. "It's something very special here. You can see they want something very, very badly.

"You can see very clearly that this is an organization that's very committed to this community. They are very proactive, and I think that's wonderful."

Davidson acknowledged that there is no secret recipe or road map to success which will put the Blue Jackets on the fast track. As rewarding as it can be to taste success (even if it's for a brief period of time), the personable, approachable man known simply as "JD" wants to get to the top of the mountain and stay there.

The list of items on Davidson's "to-do" list is lengthy -- and the first one is finding a place to live, he joked -- but there won't be much time to rest. The process to building a winner begins now, and the road ahead is his primary focus.

"We're going to start first thing tomorrow morning," Davidson said. "No matter where you are in the standings, it's a challenge (to build). We want an organization that's not going to be outworked anywhere, and everyone needs to understand that.

"We're going to let the world know this is a world-class organization. We won't take a backseat to anybody."

Much like he did in St. Louis with a downtrodden Blues club, Davidson will build the Blue Jackets through the draft. Armed with three first-round draft picks in 2013 and a stable of young players in junior hockey and the American Hockey League, Davidson said there are plenty of reasons to be excited about what's to come.

The Blues finished with 57 points in 2005-06 and Davidson estimated they were drawing about 6,000 fans per game. He said those fans "were the best 6,000," because they knew the circumstances and were committed to the Blues' game plan.

"There's going to be a lot of energy spent on the draft," Davidson said. "The draft is huge for this club, just huge. When (the team) is good here, we want it to be good for a very long time.

"The lifeblood of this franchise is going to be its drafting going forward. That's the game plan here, and how we're going to get to where we want to go."

Davidson made himself very clear: the Blue Jackets are going to have a plan, they are going to stick to it, and the full expectation is that they are going to win hockey games and raise the bar.

The fans want it and deserve it, Davidson said. And there's no dancing around it.

"You can't not tell the truth," Davidson said. "You can't blow smoke and try to fake your way through this. That's how you build a team, gang -- one brick at a time. That's what we're going to do here.

"We have to make sure we do it right. That's the key."

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