What John Davidson said about Henrik Lundqvist, Dolan, Gorton and more

John Davidson was a guest on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio and said:

  • Why is this job important, “it’s NY, it’s the Rangers. I was here 28-years, I think I know what I am getting myself into. I’m up to my butt in alligators but that is okay. I left here 13-years ago to go to St. Louis and worked with a great staff and tried to rebuild that team and then moved onto Columbus and sometimes it just fits. Columbus is a very special place, that place doesn’t change much, we were really enjoying ourselves there and then all of a sudden, in a very short period of time, this thing pops up with Glen Sather stepping down and you start thinking of pros and cons and everything is pro, there are no negatives to this. I am very lucky in that leaving Columbus and those people have all been good to me, I’m leaving on my terms but they are wishing me well, not when the two teams play but wishing myself and family all the best. It’s a great place and I’m excited as can be to be in New York.”
  • On John Tortorella, “I love Torts, he came in, I knew him from my time here and he won the Cup with Tampa and we needed help in a lot of ways and he was the right guy to get in there and help change the locker room culture, hand things to young players and all the things you have to go through. The locker room belongs to players and if it doesn’t then it means the coaches are intervening, sometimes they need to help but now Torts has finished that work and they are in a good spot.”
  • When did this start with the Rangers, “When Glen stepped down and the good folks here decided to go through all the names and that and my name was there. I had talked to Columbus that a Ranger job was the only job I would ever leave for, sure enough it popped up. I had a great relationship with management above me, ownership and we were all on the same page. This wasn’t a guy leaving in the middle of the night, this was something that if it became a possibility it could happen and sure enough it happened. I’m ecstatic to be here.”
  • What is your relationship with Jim Dolan, “I didn’t know Jim very well, I knew about him, read a lot and things but I never would have taken this job if I didn’t feel comfortable regarding that. I came quietly into NY, maybe two weeks ago – I don’t even know now, and sat with Jim for 2-3 hours and went through everything, from A-Z. The man wants to win, he wants to give us as a group everything we need as a group resource-wise to become a winner. That is all you can ask for. We also talked a lot about what the Rangers have done here and being transparent and telling everybody they were going to go through this. It’s a hard thing to do and I went through it in St. Louis. I was pretty green, learned a lot, some of it the hard way, tutored a little bit by Larry Pleau, who was the assistant GM with the Rangers in 1994 and I’ll never ever forget what he did. They didn’t know if the Blues were going to stay in St. Louis, we helped re-establish the franchise, made a lot of good choices, some others, and I wish them well against a really good Boston team.”
  • On patience, “people are going to be impatient because it’s NY sports and that is natural and I understand that but I also understand that you have to have resolve and patience at the right level and go through rebuild. If you do it the right way and build a foundation, in Columbus I called it a brick at a time and that is what we did. You make a trade, draft pick, do this and that and you fit them in and if it doesn’t you do something else but that foundation should be there for a while.”
  • What is the challenge of coming in while the rebuild has been going on, “I don’t know if it’s a challenge. I’ve gone through two franchises in 13-years doing exactly that. St. Louis was at the very bottom of the league, couldn’t go any lower, they got rid of some terrific players like Chris Pronger. We were begging for a goalie in August just to get a goalie, that is just part of it. Columbus wasn’t as low as St. Louis because they had some parts like Bobrovsky but we still had to go through that whole thing of finding and developing players, culture, Torts helped with that. I also brought in Jarmo Kekalien to be our GM. I think that doing it twice already has given me somewhat of an advantage to work with these people and have the experience of doing that.”
  • On inheriting Jeff Gorton and David Quinn, “when I talked to Jim Dolan, I can do what I want to do. I am not one to walk in with a hand grenade and blow things up. I want to see how people work but I will say that since I’ve left here I have watched a lot of Rangers games because of my association with Sam Rosen and the network, still have a ton of friends over there and they do a great job, when I saw how they went to this game plan and how coach Quinn had these people work last year, I think the culture is going in the right direction. I will try to be helpful and analyze everything and if we make changes, and I’m not talking about coaches and GMs, but helping in various areas all the way through, that includes analytics and data and everything from A-Z and I have to look at it and that is the only way we are going to get better.”
  • Do you have a relationship with Gorton, “I knew Jeff, talked to him a number of times. I was only two hours from Plymouth, Michigan and that is the home of the US program and a lot of tournaments and I would always go to them and he would always go and we would always say hello. What you do at those things, as someone running a franchise, you see who is there and who is not and who is working, who is there to shake hands and gab. He was always there and I also know that he made some pretty prominent moves with Boston before he got to the Rangers, I respect what he has done.”
  • What does being President truly mean, “I’m a hands-on guy, I want to know everything we are doing in our organization. Everything. Where scouts are going, who they are going to see and all that stuff and then communicate with Jeff and Chris Drury who runs Hartford. Chris is coming back from the Worlds and the US team and I like that he did that, win or lose you see all the players on every team, get to know new coaches, you act like a sponge. I’ll have thoughts and ideas. I know I want people to know their seat on the bus. When you are the GM you are GM, assistant GM, scout, do your jobs and we will figure it all out. I think I can help in a lot of different ways because of what I have gone through, even as a player and broadcaster and knowing and having connections over the world in our game. I can call people and give that info to our GM, etc. I don’t want to sit in a rocking chair, I want to be hands on and work. Our league is so damn close, the parity is insane. We didn’t get in with Columbus until the second to last night of the year, here in NY, Rangers scored with six seconds left to tie and almost had a heart attack and then we won in a shootout and our club was within a hair of beating Boston in Game 6, I wish it went seven because that series deserved it.”
  • How active do you expect to be in free agency, “I think it has to make sense, it does, if you are going to bring in an older free agent and give him a long-term contract when your team isn’t ready for it it’s not good for him or you. If you can find a way to look at players that are not that old and fit the needs you have and have the character you are looking for, that are not beat up physically, some are, some have been around the block and come in with a bad knee or bad back, you have to do a lot of that research and do something that makes a lot of sense and not get ahead of yourself. The league is a lot younger than it used to be and so I don’t think it takes quite as long as it used to to rebuild a franchise but you have to do the leg work and roll up your sleeves and find the right guys. An example would be Kravtsov, he came in, I think yesterday, and will be here the duration and will learn the language and I like that. He’s going to work with people that can work with conditioning, nutrition, there is a guy that seems pretty darn committed. That is the type of stuff you want.”
  • On picking #2, “this is going to be win-win for both teams. Whatever happens across the river, they do and we will take care of business on our side. Different types of players, Kakko is bigger forward and Hughes is not quite as big but faster and a little bit more dynamic, both are terrific talents and game changers. They are going to make an imprint on hockey in this area.”
  • On Henrik Lundqvist’s future, “he’s playing very well at the Worlds right now, I’ve watched quite a few of the Sweden games. He has never really had injuries where you worry about his back or knees or hips going so that has been a real plus. Ultimate pro as far as how he trains and gets himself ready. I will find time for sure to have a good solid talk with Hank about what we think we are and where we are going, what he wants to do. I know there is a huge commitment by the club to him because there is respect there and there should be. We will get on the same page, whatever that is, I don’t know yet but I’d love to see him come back and play 50 games, win 30+ of them and it would be awesome but we need to get on the same page with all that stuff with where we are.”
  • On Glen Sather’s future, “Glen is a friend of mine, we were teammates in the early 70s in St. Louis, he conned me into buying a place that was his, he did a good job, he’s a good businessman, I was 19 at the time. There is a lot of experience there. He won’t be around all the time but I’m going to lean on him for sure, I have a lot of respect for what he did. When I went back to Canada after I retired here I broadcasted Flames and Oilers games and that was as good as it gets with Gretzky and Messier and then Calgary builds a team to beat them, that was a phenomenal. Glen has all that experience, I’d be foolish not to lean on him.”
  • Will you involve Mark Messier, “I don’t know, I will talk to Mark, he is a friend too. I’d like to pick his brain and see what his thoughts are. I have a great deal of respect, how could you not have respect for Mark Messier? He stared down adversity in NY, I was with him in Edmonton, I consider him a friend and I have a lot of respect for him.”