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Columbus introduces Davidson, who has “full authority and autonomy over the competition side” of team

Oct 24, 2012, 3:00 PM EST

Davidson

On Wednesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets presented John Davidson as their new President of Hockey Operations — and presented a new direction for the franchise as well.

In speaking to the assembled media, team president Mike Priest said part of building a “world-class organization” in Columbus included handing the hockey decision-making reins to Davidson.

“[He'll] have full authority and autonomy over the competition side of our organization,” Priest said.

The obvious follow-up question to that statement is: How will it impact general manager Scott Howson?

Howson has served as GM since 2007 and, on his watch, Columbus has achieved extreme highs and lows.

The Jackets made their first (and only) playoff appearance in 2009, but also stumbled to a 65-point season a year ago — the third-worst total in franchise history.

As for being competitive? Columbus isn’t.

The Jackets finished dead last in the Central Division for three straight seasons and given Davidson’s now in charge of the “competition side”…well, you do the math.

Howson’s future is also murky given the presence not just of Davidson, but also Craig Patrick.

Patrick was hired in December of last year as the Senior Advisor to Hockey Operations, meaning the Columbus front office is now loaded with experienced hockey men and decision makers.

Oh, and speaking of hockey decisions, an interesting note from the Davidson presser — when asked what areas the team needs to improve, the former goalie replied: “When you keep the puck out of the net, it sure helps.”

Howson has received a large amount of criticism for his faith in goalie Steve Mason, who’s struggled mightily after being nominated for the Vezina and winning the Calder in 2009. Howson signed Mason to a two-year, $5.8 million contract extension in 2010, and that extension expires at the end of this season.

  1. rodeoclowndc - Oct 24, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Send Howson packing. Mason can drive.

  2. elvispocomo - Oct 24, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Hmm, seems when this was talked about earlier on PHT some people were suggesting Priest would keep control and Davidson would be a figurehead. Assuming they aren’t out and out lying here, it seems Davidson expects to have enough control to make major decisions on the hockey side of things.

    • tmoore4075 - Oct 24, 2012 at 3:47 PM

      And what is needed. I understand having to clear big trades that take on salary with your owner and other top people but other than that JD should be left alone. It will take some time however so they will need to be patient. If he’s allowed to do what he needs to this is a great hire for them.

    • east96st - Oct 24, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Hmm, seems this is saying he’ll have control over the “competitive” side of the organization, NOT the financial. That still falls under Priest. Which is exactly what I was saying before, elvis. RIF. Never said Davidson would be a figurehead. Those are your words, not mine. I said Priest would undermine him. I’m sorry you’re having such a tough time figuring this out, but please read the above post again and notice the part about Priest still being the team President. What’s Priest doing there and why is he still President if he has given up all control? I wish Davidson all the luck in the world. He’ll need it working for that team. I give it three years before Davidson resigns in disgust.

    • elvispocomo - Oct 24, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      @tmoore4075 Here’s hoping for Columbus’ sake. Unfortunately it’s too late for them to build around their biggest franchise star but I’m sure JD will be able to make positive decisions for them.

      @east96st: Wait, so this wasn’t you saying, “JD will be nothing but a figure head,” in the Davidson visits Columbus article?

      http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2012/10/12/davidson-to-visit-columbus-this-weekend-meet-with-ownership/

      “Sorry, folks. This will change nothing. What is needed if for JD to REPLACE Mike Priest. As long as McConnell allows Priest to have the final word, CBJ won’t fix it’s number one problem – grossly incompetent leadership. JD will be nothing but a figure head. Priest has all the power – as can be seen by the fact that Howson is STILL gainfully employed – and Priest is the McConnell family accountant – NOT a hockey guy. The problems that plague CBJ stem from the very top. So, until McConnell sells the Jackets or fires Priest and puts a guy like JD in charge, the problems will remain. I’m actually surprised JD is even talking to them. Everyone is entitled to a paycheck, but JD is smart enough to know that as long as Priest gets final say, all JD will be is public show piece so McConnell can blame everything on the new scapegoat.”

  3. theawesomersfranchise - Oct 24, 2012 at 3:47 PM

  4. lostpuppysyndrome - Oct 24, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Actually, re: Mason, I don’t really know why anyone should be mad at Howson. He signed him for only 2 years, not 15. Mason had a standout season and Howson was smart. Unless your name is Brodeur or Lundqvist, goalies are a fairly big gamble, and giant, long-term contracts have had a way of backfiring on teams. Mason’s in a contract year, and he’ll get what he deserves should the game start back up again. Again, this wasn’t a bad move by Howson.

  5. bhawkce - Oct 24, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    in the past, the CBJ have been willing to pay good money..just haven’t had the right person to attract the big names (or make the right decisions) it gives a down trodden franchise some hope. with the lockout going on right now, I believe its a blessing in an (annoying) disguise. Gives Davidson a chance to evaluate a lot of things, and to start making some decisions without a lot of pressure. JMHO here tho guys.

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