Blue Jackets president John Davidson resigns, expected to join Rangers

In this Aug. 1, 2013, photo, Columbus Blue Jackets' John Davidson talks about his role with the team at his Nationwide Arena office in Columbus, Ohio. The patience has paid off: Picked by most analysts to finish near the bottom again, the Blue Jackets shattered franchise records for wins and points, and will be in the Stanley Cup playoffs that begin next week. (Eric Albrecht/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

John Davidson’s reign as president of hockey operations of the Columbus Blue Jackets has come to an end, as the longtime NHL executive resigned from the club on Friday.

All signs point to Davidson joining the New York Rangers front office, as the rebuilding team’s request to interview him for their vacancy at president was officially granted.

Blue Jackets president Mike Priest announced Davidson’s departure in a statement on Friday.

“The New York Rangers recently sought permission from our organization to speak with John Davidson about serving as their team president,” he said. “That permission was granted and today John has resigned his position as the president of hockey operations and alternate governor with the Columbus Blue Jackets.”

Davidson joined Columbus in 2012 and helped cultivate a winning hockey culture in Ohio, overseeing the rebuilding club to four playoff appearances, including three consecutive berths from 2016-17 to 2018-19. Prior to that, he spent six years as president of hockey operations of the St. Louis Blues.

“Personally, I want to thank J.D. for his friendship and the many contributions that he and his wife, Diana, have made to the Blue Jackets and throughout our community,” Priest continued. “He helped us forge a winning culture based on preparation, hard work, accountability and honesty. He set the tone and hired talented people that put in place a plan to build the Blue Jackets through the draft and player development with the end goal being a team that could compete and have success at the highest-level on a yearly basis.”

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen will take over Davidson’s tasks as alternate governor in addition to his GM duties.

Davidson has strong ties to New York. As a former NHL goaltender, he spent eight seasons with the Rangers in the 1970s and 80s. Now, he has a chance to help rebuild the historic franchise back into a contender.

“J.D. is a man of great character and compassion and I completely understand his interest in the unique opportunity before him,” Blue Jackets owner and governor John P. McConnell said in the team’s statement. “I know leaving Columbus is a difficult decision for him as he has a genuine love of our community and organization, but the possibility of returning to his roots in New York, where he spent three decades as a player and broadcaster, is an extraordinary circumstance for him and his family.”

The Rangers have had an opening in their front office since longtime president Glen Sather stepped down from the position. He had served as president there since 2000, and has transitioned to the role of Rangers senior advisor and alternate governor.

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