Davidson returns to Blue Jackets as president of hockey operations

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John Davidson is returning to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second stint as their president of hockey operations and alternate governor.

The 68-year-old received a five-year contract. He held both titles with the Blue Jackets from Oct. 24, 2012 through May 17, 2019, when he resigned to take on the same roles with the New York Rangers. 

General manager and alternate governor Jarmo Kekalainen also signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season.

“John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen worked tirelessly and effectively together to transform our hockey club from a team with one Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance in 12 seasons to one that reached the postseason five times in seven years from 2013-20,” Blue Jackets president and alternate governor Mike Priest said.

“This is an important time for our organization and having stability and proven leadership at the top of our hockey operations department is critical for us to do what we want to do, which is bring a Stanley Cup championship to Columbus. Signing Jarmo to an extension and then bringing J.D. back gives us the right people to address the opportunities and challenges before us and we couldn’t be more excited.”

The Rangers fired Davidson along with general manager Jeff Gorton on May 5, replacing them with Chris Drury, who took on both roles as president and general manager. 

Davidson will once again work with Kekalainen, who he hired to his position Feb. 13, 2013. The Blue Jackets need to hire a new coach after they announced May 9 that John Tortorella would not return after six seasons.

The Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four of seven seasons with Davidson as their president from 2012-19. They won a playoff series for the first time in 2019, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games in the Eastern Conference First Round before a six-game loss to the Boston Bruins in the second round. 

The Rangers were 64-51-11 in two seasons with Davidson as their president. They reached the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan last season but were swept in three games by the Carolina Hurricanes. 

New York finished fifth in the MassMutual East Division this season. The top four teams in the division qualified for the playoffs. 

Davidson was also president of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues from 2006-12. During his tenure, the Blues drafted key members of their 2019 Stanley Cup championship team, including forwards David Perron, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko and goalie Jordan Binnington.

A former goalie who played 10 NHL seasons from 1973-1983 with the Blues and Rangers, Davidson had a Hall of Fame broadcasting career before becoming an NHL executive. He won the Foster Hewitt Award presented by the Hockey Hall of Fame for his contributions to broadcasting in 2009.

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