As the New York Rangers team president search continues, the one name topping the list is former goalie and MSG broadcaster John Davidson.
Glen Sather stepped down as team president when the season ended in early April. Naturally, the New York Rangers have begun the search for his replacement and less than a month later, one name has separated itself in such a nostalgic way from the field.
That name is John Davidson.
JD, as he is most commonly known, has been a familiar name to most Rangers fans since he stood tall in the net in the late 1970s. His popularity bloomed when he became the color man for MSG Network working along with the great Sam Rosen.
“Oh, Baby” became his all-too-familiar catchphrase.
A blunt broadcaster, JD never gave into network politics. When the team played good hockey, he would praise the team on-air. When the team played poor hockey, he was just as powerful in letting fans know how bad they looked on the ice.
His honesty and skill in communicating the game to novice and experienced hockey fans were what made him one of the most popular voices in the booth.
Davidson was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round, fifth overall, in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. He played two seasons for his drafted organization, appearing in 79 games while winning 34 games. He was traded to New York in 1975 where he backstopped the team for eight seasons, playing in 222 games and compiling a 93-90-25 record.
JD had his share of injuries, which untimely led to his retirement following the 1982-83 season.
When his playing career ended the next chapter began which now included a microphone instead of a goalie stick.
JD went on to be a Rangers broadcaster for MSG Network from 1986–87 to 2005–06. This included the great year of 1994 when the Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup. During that time, all the playoff games were broadcasted on MSG network, unlike today.
In June 2006, JD left MSG and took his first executive job with the St. Louis Blues. In his time as Blues president, the team made the postseason twice and went through four different head coaches. The Blues drafted Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo during his tenure in St. Louis but he was not directly involved in those selections. His hiring of the personnel who selected the talent is where the buck stopped.
JD then moved to his current piston with the Columbus Blue Jackets. His guidance finally paid off when the organization won its first-ever playoff series by knocking off the Tampa Bay Lightning in a four-game sweep.
These clubs have not had much success in the playoffs. JD took a huge gamble this year by not trading UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, deciding to go all-in on winning a championship now. The verdict is still out on that result.
Now, with rumors swirling that the Rangers are looking at Davidson as their top choice, questions have surfaced surrounding what he can add to the organization.
The president hires the staff to run the club. In the Rangers case, that task is complete and in the middle of a full rebuild, The most important factor in hiring the next president is the fact that he has to be on the same page as the general manager. This would probably not be an issue with JD.
After 13 seasons as an executive, he has put in the time and right now is the perfect opportunity for him to get the club back to the playoffs and maybe back to a final in the upcoming seasons ahead.
The tough part of this situation for JD is expectations. Can he get the club back on track as the pressure will be the highest than at any time with the past two clubs? Does he even want to leave Columbus for an opportunity to come to New York?
Is he capable of getting the job done in the toughest market in the NHL?
I believe the answer is yes to all of the questions. JD is a straight shooter. It would make sense that he would want to come back to where he enjoyed his greatest NHL success both on the ice and in the booth.
A New York reunion would be fantastic. John Davidson needs to come back and get the job done for the first time since 1994.