The People Have Always Some Champion Whom They Set Over
Them And Nurse Into Greatness — Plato’s Republic, Book VII
“He’s the perfect fit,” says long-time NHL executive, GM. and now Canadian broadcaster Brian Burke. “John will do an excellent job.”
To call JD’s selection a natural would be an understatement; it’s as wonderful as batting a thousand or scoring a Stanley Cup-winning goal.
— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) May 17, 2019
“It’s the ideal hire for the Rangers at this time,” New York Times‘ hockey expert Allan Kreda tells me. “Davidson knows what it takes to win in New York.”
For J.D., returning home to the team and city he loves is like coming up seven every time you roll the dice. Or, as John loved to say when doing MSG Networks’ Rangers broadcasts: OH, BABY!
“The history of the Rangers — and being a part of it is so special,” JD told author Matthew Blittner in the book, “Unforgettable Rangers”. “Nothing anywhere is like Madison Square Garden.”
J.D. should know. He became a Blueshirt goalie in 1975 and from then ’til eternity will be regarded as a major New York sports symbol as a player, broadcaster and now as chief executive.
“There’s been many, many years of special moments in The Garden for me,” Davidson added. “It’s been a gift and privilege to be a part of this team.”
He most recently paid his executive dues for six years in St. Louis with the Blues and then seven campaigns at the Blue Jackets helm in Columbus, beginning in 2012.
“John was the perfect person to lead our hockey operations efforts,” says Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell.
The Columbus hockey club’s president, Mike Priest, seconded the motion: “J.D. helped us forge a winning culture based on preparation, hard work, accountability and honesty.”
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) May 18, 2019
Those are among the qualities that persuaded Madison Square Garden Company Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Dolan that Davidson had to be THE man for the top Blueshirts gig.
“This is the start of a new and exciting chapter In New York Rangers history,” says Dolan. “John Davidson is one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League.”
After three decades as one New York most famous and visible sports personalities, J.D. succeeds Glen Sather with a double-dip of pride and heartfelt emotion.
“I’m excited and humbled,” is the way Davidson blends his feelings. “The opportunity of rejoining the Rangers is one I could not pass up.”
Those who recall Davidson’s years as New York’s goaltender point out that while he never was a Vezina Trophy-winner, John brought other qualities to his profession.
“J.D. did not make a name for himself with flashy numbers,” notes Blittner, “but with sheer grit and determination. Those are two qualities Rangers fans loved about him. John practically willed his teammates to the 1979 Stanley Cup Final against Montreal.”
Despite playing with an injured knee, Davidson compiled a .921 save percentage, a 2.28 goals against average and one shutout over 18 games.
Unfortunately, a spate of injuries diminished the length of his playing career and he retired at the age of 29 after the 1982-83 season. However, he remained with the organization and found a new profession for himself — broadcasting.
“The Rangers allowed me to do some things with MSG Networks as the third man in the tv booth. I worked at it; loved it, and eventually, I became a fixture.”
Young fans who may never have seen John play goal for the Blueshirts came to literally love him as an announcer. J.D. and his able sidekick, Sam Rosen, became among the most popular broadcast teams in the city’s sports history.
The Rosen-Davidson one-two combo had the good fortune to broadcast the 1994 winner-take-all Game 7 of the Rangers-Canucks Stanley Cup Final at The Garden. JD calls it “My Most Unforgettable Rangers game.”
Leaning forward expectantly in the MSG booth, Davidson watched the Blueshirts nurse their precious one-goal lead down to the last minute; and then came the final face-off deep in the New York end.
Steve Larmer pinned one of the Canucks against the glass behind the goal line,” Davidson said.” Then the game was over and everybody was jumping around. Everybody was going crazy because the Stanley Cup was there.”
Sam Rosen then uttered the deathless words: “AND THIS ONE WILL LAST A LIFETIME!”
These are memories — among many others — that fans cherish and which J.D. brings with him on his gala return to run the Rangers.
“The symmetry is excellent,” Kreda concludes. “John is taking the helm 40 years after leading the Rangers on the magical run to the 1979 Cup Final!”
Were he around today, Plato would agree.