ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- John Davidson is leaving the Blues and that’s a bad thing for St. Louis. There’s not really a bad guy involved here, an evil, greedy owner, it’s just an unfortunate by-product of the current state of NHL economics.
Davidson had three years left on his contract and was owed six million dollars. New Blues owner Tom Stillman decided it’d be better to offer Davidson a buy-out than continue to pay him his huge salary.
The Blues have laid off a big chunk of their front office staff in recent days as a cost cutting measure due to the lockout. Davidson might have been terminated even if there hadn’t been a lockout. It’s not uncommon for a new owner to want new people to run his organization, and Stillman recently promoted Bruce Afflect to the top spot in the Blues front office. With the Blues, and many other NHL franchises hemorraging money, there was no place in the budget for Davidson’s contract.
The contribution Davidson made to the Blues cannot be understated. He arrived with the franchise in a mess, both financially and on the ice. He became the friendly and confident face of the team, won back a fan base that had become disenchanted after the 2005 lockout, and eventually steered the club to its most recent 109 point season. At one point, Davidson was the guy making most of the personnel decisions, but now that job has fallen to general manager Doug Armstrong. Davidson’s position with the team as president of hockey operations had become largely redundant. That wasn’t a good spot to be with the organization anxious to cut costs.
We’ll miss John Davidson in St. Louis. No executive here ever handled himself with more dignity and class. Davidson was an outstanding communicator, highly respected around the NHL, and was instantly liked by the media and the Blues fan base. He orchestrated a number of moves that helped the Blues evolve into the young and dynamic team that nearly won the President’s Cup trophy this past season. I suppose we shouldn’t feel too sorry for a guy who made several million bucks here over the past couple of years, and is no doubt leaving with a nice settlement check. But anybody who met John Davidson will miss him. He did outstanding work here. Helped stabilize a franchise that was in real financial turmoil, and turned it into one of the better teams in the league. Blues hockey fans owe him a big “thank you.”