John Davidson stepped behind a lectern emblazoned with the Rangers emblem on Wednesday and received straight to the purpose.
“Desires do come true,” he mentioned at Madison Sq. Backyard, showing to develop into a bit misty-eyed after he was launched because the Rangers’ new president about 40 years to the day after main the staff to the Stanley Cup finals as a goaltender.
“It’s no secret that New York has all the time been a … held a really particular place in my coronary heart,” he added, along with his spouse and considered one of their two daughters within the viewers.
Davidson, 66, is changing the retiring Glen Sather, who has been on the helm since June 2000.
Hiring Davidson is a logical transfer for the youthful Rangers, who missed the playoffs for the second straight season as they work via a dramatic rebuild that started in February 2018.
Solely 4 gamers stay from their Cup finals run in 2014. The staff has been accumulating younger expertise and has two first-round picks, together with the second over all, and two second-round picks in subsequent month’s draft.
“I wish to proceed what’s been began right here,” Davidson mentioned. “That’s to construct the Rangers to develop into perennial Stanley Cup contenders. They’re doing it the correct manner.”
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Davidson brings the pedigree of a hockey life that has included most each layer of N.H.L. expertise, from participant to Corridor of Fame broadcaster to staff government. He performed two seasons with St. Louis earlier than spending components of eight seasons with the Rangers, his profession lower quick due to knee accidents.
The magical 1979 playoff run, throughout which the underdog Rangers upset the Islanders in six video games within the semifinals earlier than shedding within the Cup finals in 5 video games to the Canadiens, cemented Davidson’s standing within the staff’s historical past.
“We received on a roll with a bunch of younger gamers, and that run was vital due to the sensation of what New York gave again to us,” he mentioned. “I used to get up within the morning up in Westchester and there can be items on the doorstep — from individuals I didn’t even know.”
After his enjoying profession resulted in 1983, Davidson moved to the MSG tv sales space, the place he can be paired with Sam Rosen. Their tenure included the spring of 1994, when the Rangers gained the Stanley Cup after 54 years of frustration. Davidson’s “Oh child” exclamations grew to become as nicely often called Rosen’s “It’s a power-play purpose” chorus.
“He’s the correct man for the group proper now,” Rosen mentioned of Davidson.
Davidson left tv in 2006 to take over as president of the St. Louis Blues for six years earlier than assuming the identical position with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the place he was till final week. Columbus, a struggling younger franchise when Davidson received there, made the playoffs in 4 of his six seasons.
“That is the one group I might ever have left Columbus for,” Davidson mentioned.
He was fast to claim that there’s loads of work forward in his new position. Primarily, there’s planning for subsequent month’s draft and attending to know his gamers. That may embrace a dialog with Henrik Lundqvist, the staff’s 37-year-old franchise goaltender, who has two years left on his contract however is coming off the worst season of his 14-year N.H.L. profession.
“He’s a proud, proud man and really profitable at what he does,” Davidson mentioned. “I can hardly wait to talk with him.”
Davidson additionally mentioned he was trying ahead to working with Normal Supervisor Jeff Gorton and Coach David Quinn, the previous coach at Boston College, who had a 32-36-14 file in his rookie season behind the Rangers’ bench.
“There aren’t any fast fixes,” Davidson mentioned. “It’s onerous work, it’s persistence and it’s having the right resolve.”
Requested if he would really feel on the spot strain to generate outcomes underneath the klieg lights of New York, Davidson mentioned, “I’ve no issues with that.”
“If you wish to do it proper and do it nicely, there’s all the time strain,” he added. “Clearly, the earlier you win the higher. That’s the purpose. However you need to do it the correct manner. I’ll assess every little thing.”
Moreover, the reminiscences of the finals loss in 1979 are nonetheless recent.
“He didn’t end it then,” Davidson’s spouse, Diana, mentioned. “That’s the explanation he wished to return again and end this. You had been ‘this far’ from the Cup.”