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2020 Rangers Offseason Henrik Lundqvist John Davidson Marc Staal

What John Davidson said on MSG about Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal

Rangers President John Davidson was on MSG and said:

  • On the Henrik Lundqvist decision, “Both players, when you think about Marc Staal and Henrik, we were sitting and talking about it as, combined, almost 30-years of service for the Rangers and both of them playing with a great deal of compassion, competitiveness, won a Presidents Trophy, have gotten to a Stanley Cup Final. These are the type of things you really have to weigh when you make these decisions, these are the hardest to make. You have to sit here and look at it and say, “we’ve gotta do what we have to do, the cap is different, it’s going to be flat for three-years, there are young people going through this build and everything adds up. All in all, it’s about what they did for the Rangers. They will always be Rangers, great Rangers. With Hank, when you are called the “King,” you are called that for a reason. We have good relationships with both players, we will continue that way and anything they need, we are there for them and we just have to keep moving, going north.”
  • On having a personal relationship with Hank, “the first time I ever saw Henrik Lundqvist play, it was at the training center, in training center, his first day. The media have a certain area at ice level, 30 feet from where Henrik is in goal, and I said to myself ‘this guy is good, this guy is really good.’ You could see it in the first five minutes and then he went onto an incredible career with the Rangers. When it’s goalie-goalie you talk a little about things here and there and when it gets down to these types of decisions, I really like that Hank asked me to go have a discussion with him, and we did. It was very honest with both people involved about thoughts and ideas and future and the one thing I really respected about what Hank said was ‘wherever this goes, I just want to make sure, whatever my decision is, that I don’t have any regrets. That is a great way of looking at things. With us, we have to make these hard decisions, it’s part of the business. I’ve thought about athletes in New York, Tom Seaver went on and left, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, a lot of great athletes in this City, some of them went on and played, Eli Manning didn’t play for another organization, some did. The player had to make that determination in his own heart and feelings and I know Henrik is going to really weigh things as he moves forward.”
  • Did you seek out any advice on what to do, “When you go through these decisions you try and weigh every single option that is available to us. You work with Hank, Hank works with his family, Hank has his agency that he works with and he believes in their help. Everyone gets together and makes this decision. We have Chris Drury here, Jeff Gorton here, the coaching staff, the owner, Jim Dolan, he has immense respect for Hank. All these things have to weigh and a lot of times you get a ledger sheet and go through pros and cons and just try to weigh them and make these tough decisions and hopefully they are right ones. All I know is, this organization and Hank, the marriage is still going. It’s an incredible marriage and when you think Rangers, you think NYC and what Hank has been able to do in NYC and the NY area, helping people, making life better for a lot of different people. That is something that will continue. The hockey part of it is changed right now but I think the big picture is what you try to look at. I have immense, really immense respect for what Hank has been able to do. He’s been skating here at the training center and taking shots with a lot of our young and older players who want to work on their conditioning and do things. Hank can come up any time he wants to the training center and work out, take shots. It’s still a good marriage.”
  • On what stands out about Marc Staal, “Whenever you talk about Marc Staal, the word that comes up with a lot of different people is ‘warrior.” He was a warrior, a lot of fans, I don’t think realize, when you play the way he did all those years, you play banged up and hurt and nicked up and bruised and some injuries that are tough. He toughed his way through all of those. He also, over this last year I got to know him a little better and what he meant to the franchise. There is leadership value there too and that is something he will always have as part of his resume, wherever he plays hockey or whatever he’s doing. He’s a good man, plays the right way, cares about people and he has that ability to be a voice.”
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2020 Draft Henrik Lundqvist John Davidson

What John Davidson said on Tuesday about #1, the Carolina series and Henrik Lundqvist

7:30PM: On MSG, John Davidson said:

  • Is Lafreniere a lock or will you listen to offers, “We just got it yesterday and as Jeff Gorton said, we’ve done a multitude of zooms with kids eligible for the draft, he’s an exceptional hockey player, for a young man he has exceptional leadership value. There is a package there that is pretty complete but it’s our job to look through the whole thing, to keep this in-house and I woke up at 4 this morning thinking about how great it’s going to be to walk out on the stage an announce the number one pick, then….there’s no stage. We will figure this whole thing out, I’m not going to tip the hand now but I can tell you this much, this young man is a future star.”
  • What is your perspective on all of it, “I think it’s going to be great for hockey. New York is an important franchise in the NHL and if we continue doing this right and not get ahead of ourselves, we will be fine down the road. I know how important this is, not only on the ice but it gives everyone a chance to feel good about going to work to sell tickets, the fans to know that they will be able to see a future star grow right before their eyes, this is a young person and the fans will be able to say ‘I remember when he first started and was 19-years old and look at him now.’ This, for me, touches all the boxes you need for a franchise going forward. On top of that, with us, it really helps us with the build process we are in the middle of but we also know that this is still going to take some time to get into place. There is going to be players on this team that are going to be a huge part down the road that aren’t here yet. That is what we go through and for the fans, at least in my mind, to see these young guys come in and grow, it is astonishing, this is a very valuable thing for us, it’s an exciting thing for us. I didn’t know quite how to react to it because it’s a big deal, today we are walking around with smiles on our faces but we also know we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
  • What do you want to hear from Lafreniere when you talk to him, “I think that if he becomes number one we are still going to go through all of our processes to understand. We’ve all seen him play a lot, I’ve never seen him live, but I’ve seen him on tape, what he did at the World Juniors and how he took that over. It’s all good, just want to understand the young man and get to know him. I heard last night that he does love the fact that he’s going to be going to NY. Number 11 is on his jersey and number 11 used to play here in NY, his name is Mark Messier, and I think there is an affinity from Alexis to Mark Messier, watching him play when he was growing up. That is a pretty good leader to try to learn from when you are growing up, to see how Mark carried himself as a Ranger and how he willed his way into being a star with the Rangers. There are a lot of good things in place. Again, we aren’t going to say we are drafting Alexis, we are going to do work on it. This young man is a star player.”
  • On character and how Columbus advanced to the playoffs, “A lot of that has to do with experience, the key players on that team, even though a couple of young ones popped again like Texier and Foudy, but Werenski and Jones and Boone Jenner and Foligno, they’ve been through it a little bit now, they beat Tampa last year and lost to Boston in a tough series. The year before they lost to Washington in six games, when the Blue Jackets hit six goal posts in that game, it was weird but that experience factor means something. Now for us, we didn’t play real well at all in Toronto but we had a lot of players that went through something, so Howden played well, Kakko played well, some of the young players got their eyes open to how hard it is to play in a playoff-type atmosphere. There was some experience that were good for us. I know that in our training camp prior to going to Toronto, K’Andre Miller was outstanding, I mean outstanding and that for me was really something special. Yea, there was negatives, we lost three, had four guys not available, two minutes into game one, to be at their best. DeAngelo had a hamstring, Shesterkin was out with a groin, Jesper Fast get nailed early and put out of the tournament and Lemieux, who played very well in game three, wasn’t available. There was things there and with reality involved, we didn’t have enough players play well, but we did get something out of it and that is the way I like to balance it. When we go north you have to get something good out of these situations. It wasn’t good when we went 0-3 and first team out, but when you really define what went on and the positives of some of the players and experience level, it did have some benefits.”
  • Where is your focus with Henrik Lundqvist, “we are talking, for sure. Hank has gone home, we will be in touch with Hank and his camp in the not too distant future. I have a lot of respect for Hank, I had a real good chat with him once we landed back from Toronto. He’s a pro, a real healthy discussion. We will see where it goes as we move along. Our process right now is going through exit meetings with Quinny and Gorts, in fact, they are in another room talking as we speak, and that is how you start your business with end of season stuff. We will go through every aspect of it, be prepared for the draft, it’s only #1 but we have another pick and there is more work down the road with everybody. It’s a situation here where it’s business as usual, unusual that we get number one but usual with everything that is ahead of us in times that aren’t very normal. The number one pick really stimulates you, it opens up options for a number of different things. We have to analyze all this stuff, deal with a cap that isn’t going to change from a year ago. These are interesting times, they aren’t normal. I think the Rangers are in a real good spot as we continue to build to a championship we are trying to win.”

4:41PM: John Davidson was a guest on The Michael Kay Show today and said (ESPN 98.7):

  •  What was your reaction to #1, “I was sitting in my media room in my home and went to my good luck chair, when the balls were in the air I couldn’t watch. I covered my eyes, looked away, didn’t know until my wife started screaming that the Rangers got the pick. I was able to look and for one of the few times in my life, I was speechless. I just know how to react other than that something like this is a very special moment in our history and we got lucky and now we have to take advantage and make the best of it.”
  • On the guy who dropped the Ranger ping pong ball, “We both said good omen. When you get into a situation like this, there is nothing normal about anything going on, it’s just crazy, so you expect the unexpected. I was looking up in the sky asking for a couple of favors from my parents who are up there This is stuff you hope happens to you, get lucky, doesn’t happen very often in life, and bang, there we are. When I was in St. Louis the lowest pick we had was 4 and it was Alex Pietrangelo and he has become a great player. In Columbus it was 3 and it was Pierre-Luc Dubois who is having a real good run right now and he’s starting to really pop and bloom. You just know the type of impact these players can have. A special time for Ranger fans and hockey in NY.”
  • Are you definitely making the pick or would you trade it, “I would think, when you look at something like this, you make the pick but you can’t sit here today and say this is what we are doing and who we are taking and that is that. You can’t do that, you never know what happens down the road. There is no real rush. We will have a zoom call coming up with Lafraniere. We’ve zoomed all the top players that are going to be in the draft but we didn’t do him because it was unrealistic that we were going to get him. Now there is realistic thinking to it, we will go through the whole process. I know he was a Ranger fan. When he was younger, he wears 11 for a reason. That is Mark Messier. He’s a young man that has terrific leadership skills, plays the game the right way. It could be him, it could not. It’s up in the air bu things are looking pretty good.”
  • Who does he compare to, “that is a real good question. It’s hard to answer, I know that in talking to our scouts and reading the reports, I’ve never seen him live. I’ve seen him play on tape, plenty. I’ve seen him play in the World Juniors where, for an 18-year old, he was out of this world in a very difficult tournament for a player that young. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s fast enough, skills, passing skills, great hockey sense. A shot that is exceptional, he drags players into the game, he’s one of those guys. When the game gets going and game gets tougher he brings his teammates right into the game. Those are the players you like to see. I’ve been getting a lot of texts from people in the league, from different organizations. Guys out west who are chief scouts saying how good he is going to be, if it’s him and glad that if we take him he’s going to be in the east and not the west. Considering that we went 0-3 in our play up in Toronto, this has been some week, from down to up and unexpected in some ways but gratifying.”
  • Would you have rather made the playoffs and lost or the way it happened, “the way it happened is the way it happened. We knew going in that the unknown was there, what to expect, can you find the mojo that you had when we had the pause hit us and then when you try to analyze…. I’m one of those guys, year we disappointed and 0-3, but what good happened. Howden and Kakko were terrific, people may not understand but we had K’Andre Miller, the big young defenseman from Wisconsin come to our training camp, he wasn’t eligible to play in Toronto but he made us walk out of there with a smile. A big man who can really skate. The first day of the camp he was really nervous, almost that if you were taking a pass you needed a lacrosse stick to catch the puck in the air. After that first day he settled right in and he was terrific, we got that out of it. Even though the big picture was not good, when you go 0-3 and are the first team out, but whatever happens happens, here we are a few days later and boom. Just a gigantic surprise, a special shoutout to Officer McDonald, his family, for letting us use his police shield. that was awesome. It sat on my desk most of the day yesterday and Jeff Gorton took it into the room when the process was happening and for that to happen it was special.
  • On the loss to Carolina, “the injury to Shesterkin and Hank played pretty good, but the injury to Shesterkin, he had a groin injury and couldn’t play in the first two. Fast gets nailed early and he’s out of the tournament within a couple of minutes. Lemieux was suspended, lesson learned, when he played in game three he played very well. DeAngelo had a hamstring injury and couldn’t play near what he was able to play. You start adding this up, it tells you a) we didn’t have the depth that a really good team would have, but we are building that, it’s part of what we are going through. You know that as you try to get better and climb up that mountain, depth means a lot when you get into games like this. That told us something. Also, we’ve had some zoom calls with players and one thing they’ve talked a lot about, they felt better in game three than the first two game. We have to figure out why, what was it that could have been done differently to make them feel better starting in Game 1. One thing is experience. When the puck was dropped, Carolina was hungry and ready to go. Remember, they had 14 players on that team that had been in the final four, last year. They were experienced more than we were, we had a number of players it was there first playoff-like experience. I get that out of it too,  when we get into it next year and we get into a playoff run or into the playoffs, if it happens, we will have a lot more experience of what to expect as a team. The only way to get that is to go through it. Hopefully we can build on too.”
  • Does the rebuild accelerate now, “you always try to make moves that will help you win long term. You don’t want to make moves that will make you better for this one season and then you’ve given up something to do that and then it disappears. We as management totally understand that this number one pick is a big boon, it’s unbelievable for us but we are still in this process and only a couple of years into it. I know that you take step forwards and then you step into a pot hole, it’s just what happens, and then you need to get out of the pot hole and keep going, keep driving north. I used to say in Columbus that you build one brick at a time but we got an unbelievable brick yesterday, as we try to build this franchise. But I know, with myself in charge, our decisions will be made on trying to win a championship and it’s a long-term decision as opposed to ‘let’s just be competitive and see what happens. It takes a certain amount of patience and time. When we win, when we get to it, there are players on our team who aren’t even here yet, maybe they’ve been drafted but we have to go through that getting these players ready to go. That is what it is and that is what it’s going to be. Some people might get impatient, but I am not. Good things are ahead of us.”
  • On Henrik Lundqvist’s future, “I had a good chat with him when we got off the plane out of Toronto. It was a discussion we had, we will continue the dialogue. He’s gone home, back to Sweden. His representative Donnie Meehan is a good man. We will talk and see where we go. We made it clear that we aren’t carrying three goalies next year. We gotta figure out what we are going to do, figure it out with all of our goalies, keep the communication open. Just started getting into the process now so this will take some time and we will be respectful of everyone.”
  • How much does heart play into it or is it just business, “Whenever you make decisions you can make decisions the right way. The one thing, we have two very young goalies and one goalie that is a future Hall of Famer. You have to have reality, honesty, compassion, do things the right way and we will get to it and get to it the right way. Regarding all of our guys, we have as management…..I had to retire at 27 because my body decided it was time. Father time or injuries or whatever it is catch up to people along the way. Is Hank’s time now, is it not, we have to get to that point and discuss it and figure it out the right way and do things that are appropriate and right for the players involved and also the franchise itself. It’s a balancing act but we will make sure that whatever happens we will do it the right way.”
  • Have decisions been made or is it still a fluid situation, “it’s still a discussion. Ongoing, we will have discussion down the road, probably sooner than later, and discuss all options. Hank is a player, he’s been a healthy player his whole career, which is a good thing. We will discuss and see what his thoughts are and try to make some decisions as it becomes very clear for us.”
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John Davidson

What John Davidson said on ESPN Radio

Rangers President John Davidson was a guest on ESPN NY’s Bart and Hahn radio show and said:

  • On how the players will handle things in the bubble, “I couldn’t tell you how proud I am of the way our group has reacted just in case we were going to play, now we know we are going to play, how we’ve continued to go through the testing process, proven negative, everyone taking it very seriously. This is a good group, you try to monitor the group itself and who are the leaders, players who may be troublemakers or guys not in shape. We’ve got an A+ group here, I’m very proud of these guys. I think once we get there it will be a new world inside the bubble but the guys are very serious about this, a chance to play and get into the playoffs, we are excited as a group and very professional.
  • On the goaltending, “I like our group, all three have had a good camp. Coaches will have to make a serious decision regarding who will start game one. Shesterkin has had the net lately more so than the other two, communication is right on the top, everyone understands where we are, short series best-of-five, that thing can change so fast, you have to be ready. All three have worked their tails off and had exceptional camps and ready to go. If Shesterkin does play it will be a new experience for him. I look at Kakko and the way he came back from Finland, he looks like he aged 1-2 years, more mature looking, quicker stride, much more confidence than what he had before the pause started. We look for things like that. Once we get playing, the value of playing in something like this for young players can’t be duplicated anywhere. I’m thankful we have this opportunity to play Carolina, if we win we go into the playoffs. The experience factor, you can’t pay for it, it’s invaluable, that is a real good sign for us.
  • On Kakko and Shesterkin still being rookies but being more comfortable after the pause, “I think that if this was a regular season and we finished up and the players have their four months, it’s astonishing, when you see young players and what they can do with their bodies in the four months before the next season. A lot of times they look like different people. It’s a different situation but same amount of time and looking at them, they look different, it’s not a new experience for them. Not eye-opening that they are in this camp. Once the real games start we will see where it goes. This is going to be interesting, I don’t know if we will see 2-2 games that go to OT, 9-1 games. It’s so new and never been done but fascinating and exciting. Our group is really excited about this, a lot of energy from our head coach, Quinny has done a great job, these coaches have worked for weeks.”
  • On Panarin and NY, “he’s tough as nails mentally. He’s the nicest guy, has a smile all day long, will do anything you ask him to do. When it comes to mental toughness…he’s tough and competitive. If there was one guy out there, in our world of hockey, who can handle New York, and what it brings, it was him. He’s as tough as they come. Nothing bugs him, he says what is on his mind if he wants to and plays the game the right way every single night, teammates love the guy and fans, when you watch him play, there is a sparkle to him, a grin on his face. He looks like a guy that was almost born to play hockey for the New York Rangers.”
  • On Mika Zibanejad not being nominated for awards, “he will be in the future, he’s a very caring individual who has really worked with his craft, has a great relationship with the coaching staff, especially Quinny. He’s not a one dimensional player by any means, he’s good defensively because of how he works. He’s extremely fast for a big man. he’s got passing skills that are elite, a scoring touch that is super elite and when you start adding all this stuff up, along with how much he has worked to get himself to be a specimen physically, it’s helped everything translate into what could be greatness. He’s really found a home in New York. He’s a player, very much like Panarin, these two guys can score and make their temamates around them a whole lot better, make the PP gel. We are in a good spot when you have two A+ forwards on your squad at one time. That doens’t happen” very often and they are just getting into their prime.”
  • On David Quinn and Jeff Gorton and leadership and culture, “If you don’t have culture, I don’t think you have anything, I just don’t think it works. The players should run their own room, when I was in Columbus and we brought in John Tortorella, that was one thing he really worked with the players on. We were very young, had to find the right people and leadership and eventually the room became the players room. I’d through Chris Drury into the mix regarding the management end of things, with Jeff Gorton. They work really well together. Chris is a former player and a great player who has won all sorts of championships, he knows how to go about business and a large part of the development of the organization. There is really good chemistry, which I had to assess when I got here, and I really like it, I really like it. Every aspect of the group, coaches, management, training staff or the players and this is a tight group, it’s really good. It will change as you move along, players come and go and retire but if you have the culture cemented then you hand it off and keep going. That is what we are striving to do. I don’t think, I can sit here right now and say we are a championship team, we are working towards it and we’ve got to prove things but we really have some good pieces in place with this group to move forward.”
  • On the Rangers chances, “we are confident, really confident. A lot of times, coaches and players think about today and that is natural, management think about a bigger picture because that is their job. I know that before the pause we were playing very well, especially on the road, really good on the road. With that feeling of knowing that we are a good hockey club, can we become a great club, we will see but I know we have a lot more confidence today going into this thing than we had at the start of last season where there were a lot of unknowns. There wasn’t an Adam Fox or Ryan Lindgren on the blue line, we didn’t know how they were going to play or make the team. We didn’t know about Shesterkin, we knew Lundqvist and Georgiev and then you have players like Panarin pop in and he taeks off, Zibanejad was having the best year of his career. Jesper Fast is so valuable because of his ability to make everything work defensively, Ryan Strome we didn’t know if he would click with Panarin, but the coaching staff went through with it and boy, oh, boy it worked well. Kreider works will with ZIbanejad. Those were all question marks coming into the season and we’ve answered a lot of those, that makes us feel we are a pretty good hockey club. I think we are in a good spot. Carolina is good, they are fast, shoot from everywhere, experience being in the playoffs lately. It’s going to be a good experience for us.”
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John Davidson

How John Davidson is going to run the Rangers

John Davidson noted last week that he isn’t coming to the Rangers with a “hand grenade” and looking to blow things up.

Davidson said that Jim Dolan gave him permission to “do what I want to do” but noted that he thinks the culture is “going in the right direction” under Jeff Gorton and David Quinn.

He said that he hopes his relationship with Jeff Gorton is like being “married at the hip” and that he wants everybody working together on the same page. (The Athletic)

JD said that he wants each person to do their job and that he will try to help in all areas of the organization.

He added, “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.”

With Jeff Gorton, JD told The Athletic  “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s going to have every call on every thing, but what happens is the general manager, that’s his job. If he wants my advice or if I can steer him, I’ll be happy to help. Happy to help. But he’s got his seat on the bus and he’s got to do his job.”

JD said that he has a relationship with Gorton from seeing him at tournaments and hockey events and said “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.”

In his time with Columbus:

  • Davidson was hired in October of 2012 and inherited Scott Howson as GM. Howson was then fired by JD in February 2013 and replaced by Jarmo Kekalainen. Kekalainen has remained GM of Columbus since.
  • Davidson inherited Todd Richards as head coach and Richards remained as head coach until October 2015 when he was fired and replaced by John Tortorella. Tortorella has remained coach since.

On Sirius XM, JD said on Thursday, “it’s my job to deal with what is going to happen here. The intentions are to build a franchise with a strong foundation and it takes proper time. I can’t sit here and say it’s going to take 1-2-3 years. Free agent world, as we all know, is not too far down the road but we have to make sure that signings make sense. No sense in signing a guy to a 7-year contract if it doesn’t fit to what you need down the road. If it fits then you do it the right way. There will be ups and downs but it’s going to be fun. Young people, if they are quality players, will get better right before our eyes and when the day comes you are going to wake up and say that you have a good hockey team. When you build a house it takes time to build a house, it’s just what it is but when it’s done it’s sure nice to move into it.”

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John Davidson

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.”
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John Davidson

Recap: John Davidson’s intro press conference

The Rangers introduced John Davidson on Wednesday at a press conference on MSG that also featured James Dolan, Glen Sather, Jeff Gorton and David Quinn:

  • James Dolan: “I am excited to be here to welcome one of the premier execs in the NHL back to the Rangers family. JD has returned home. His knowledge of the game, experience and passion for the Rangers made him the ideal choice to lead the team. I do want to talk about Glen Sather for a minute. Thank you Glen for all you have done in the past 19-years. He is one of the most successful executives in Rangers franchise history. For me, he has been the perfect executive and leaves me with very little to do with the Rangers. I sign the checks and cheers the team and that is just the way I like it by the way. John brings a discipline of being both a player and executive and has been very successful in both. We also get the added benefit of being a damn good on-air guy. We are very pleased to bring him back into the fold and back into the Rangers family as President of the Rangers.”
  • John Davidson: “Dreams do come true. It’s an emotional time for sure and a great time for myself and my family. I want to thank Jim Dolan for this incredible opportunity to come home and lead the Rangers. I want to thank Glen Sather, he is a friend, former teammate and I look forward to leaning on Glen and the experience he has built up in his career in the NHL. It’s no secret that NY has always held a very special place in my heart. This is the only organization I ever would have left Columbus for. I would like to thank the Blue Jackets, Columbus is a great city and I wish them the best. The Blues were very good to us and it looks like it will be a great series in the Stanley Cup Final. After meeting with Jim last week it became clear that we shared the same vision. I want to continue what was started here and that is to build the Rangers into perennial Stanley Cup contenders. They are doing it the right way. Jim wants to win but wants to do it right and we are on the same page. Jeff Gorton and his staff have worked very hard over the last two-years to build the foundation. It puts us in a great position to be aggressive as we look to improve. Being in the same division as the Rangers over the last 6+ years, I watched a lot of Ranger games, Sam, Joe and Al, what became noticeable in watching those games is what has already been established and that is the identity that NYers love. A team that works, plays hard and plays the right way and I credit David Quinn and his staff for doing exactly that. We will continue to improve in that area, I can’t tell you how important it is to have the proper kind of culture to win hockey games and they have certainly done a terrific job in creating that already. There is a lot of work to do here, there are no shortcuts, there is nothing but hard work and it takes patience and resolve and I want to make sure I use the word patience and resolve because we are going to be in a battle to get this club better but you have to be patient when you go through a build like this. I’ve had the great opportunity to do it twice, we have a great staff here, already many young pieces in place that are going to be stars in the NHL and the Rangers are going to be better for it. For me, yes, dreams come true.
  • On what drove him to take this position, “when you get into a situation where you know the goal and have a plan in place, that is what you live for. When you talk to Jim, it’s what we wants. He wants to stay with the plan and has all the resources to help us become a championship hockey club. NY is special, there is only one NY. I remember coming here as a player and it was hard at first. Once you figure it out and it gets in your blood it stays forever and it’s a special place to win and that is what we plan on doing.”
  • What makes this special for you, “NY Rangers, original six team, I saw what it was like in 79 when we got to the finals and did not win. I saw what it was like in 1994 when Mark and people like Brian and Adam, what it took and what this City did when they won the championship, that was a very special time in my life. I’ve lived here previously for 28-years, raised two daughters, I became a NYer, it’s always been in my blood. For All of those reasons, you get your ledger sheet out and you have an opportunity and it all checks on one side, it’s a very special opportunity for me and my family to get back to a place and we were walking the streets last night and my wife said that doesn’t it feel like we didn’t leave and I said yea, it feels like we never left. It’s a special place.”
  • (To Jeff Gorton) How does JD’s experience help things,  “It’s going to be a huge benefit, he’s done everything in hockey and his even keel way about it, it will be a great asset for us as we go through this process, no question about it.”
  • How different is this job than the prior two, “When I went to St. Louis I was pretty green, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into but I knew I needed a change. I had worked here so long and been involved with the network and it’s as good as it gets, MSG network was fantastic to me and I had an opportunity to go to St. Louis and take a different step and I talked to the family and we jumped in. It became a labor of love, what we had to do to re-establish a franchise, find ways to make deals to get picks. We traded Keith Tkachuk to get a first rounder and he’d come back and we’d trade him again for another first rounder. We were trying what we could to build a franchise. The Blues, at that time, it was in rough shape because they didn’t know if the team was staying and with our group we were able to re-establish but it was hard and it took patience. I pull for them to do well now because a good number of those players are ones we were part of drafting. Larry Pleau, who was assistant GM in 1994, and you work and work and get young people in and try to get them to be as good as possible. I learned a lot, moved over to Columbus, they were in better shape but it’s still hockey and a rink and puck and trying to win and do a magnificent job drafting. I am very happy with what we did in that respect and we had to develop players and it’s a process and everybody is different with mindset and culture. With that experience, coming here, this team has already had some terrific picks and when I look at what Glen and the group are doing with the training center, it’s world class. It was world class and now they are re-doing it to make it better. Jim said to me, whatever you need you are going to get, try to do it and go get it. I was so happy to here that because that is the attitude you need to have when trying to build a team here in NY.”
  • How do you balance the rebuild with trying to be successful, “just by doing it right. This is not a perfect business, there are always mistakes to be made but you do your research and homework and try to make as many proper decisions as possible whether it’s through the draft or trades. You try to develop and get young players in the offseason to learn how to train, how to play hockey in NY, if you do it right you can do it for a long period of time. A lot of the foundation here is being built already, it’s important to stay with your plan. You build a foundation and keep getting better and better and do a great job with scouting and training and there are no real secrets to it, no magic wallet. You can’t reach into a blender and pull out a real good hockey team, you have to build it and steel with your resolve to do it the right way.”
  • On the arc of your career and 1979 run, “many great memories of being back in NY, I get to hook up with a lot of those players. We had a great group. The thing I remember mostly about that was how NY reacted to our club. We went into the playoffs, had a shoulder injury, wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready or not. The first game was home against LA, Charlie Simmer came down, went around me and had an open net and hits the goal post. If that goes in I don’t know what would happen. Maybe lady luck was there and sure enough we got on a role with a bunch of young players, some experience with Phil Espositio and Carol Vandnais. The feeling of what NY gave back to us, I’d wake up in the morning in Westchester and there would gifts on our doorsteps, people I didn’t know, they were just so happy we were on a run. The Isles series was a great series, a wonderful experience, great memories.”
  • “I want our staff to be a staff that is together, have individual opinions but be on our team. I want hard work, this what they do, they scour the world to try and find the proper talent to help us find the proper talent to help us become a better hockey club quicker. The NHL has become younger and with that said it should make the timing of things not take the 7-8-9 year run it used to take in this league, it can be done because of the youth, they play international hockey at young ages, compete and understand and have great coaching and nutrition, more prepared than they used to be, we just have to get the right ones and get them here and get them ready to be great Rangers.”

Davidson then spoke with Bill Pidto on MSG and said,

  • “It feels great, it’s a little surreal. I have great memories of St. Louis and Columbus but when you sit with your family and try to analyze things you know you made the right decision. There is only one NY in the world, I was here 28-years, I’m excited as I could possibly be and ready to get to work.”
  • What is your vision, “You have to build a foundation and there are only ways to do it and that is with the draft and development and making good deals and they are already in the middle of it. The biggest key for people to understand is that to build where you want to go, sports aren’t perfect, there are wonderful ups, some downs and I will have to be the one who is patience with this thing. I’ve been through it and I know and patience is a lot of what I am charged with and then it’s rolling up sleeves and getting to work and doing the every aspect done to the best of your ability.”
  • On #2, “I know there are two good ones there so it’s a heck of start for me with Hughes and Kakko, we will see what New Jersey does and we will have a big smile on our face.”

Jeff Gorton spoke with PIdto and said:

  • On adding JD, “when you bring in someone like JD and with this history and some of the things he has done in the game, it really fits well with where we need to go and we are all excited to get him here.”
  • On the young players being added, “it’s exciting for everybody, the fans should be excited, we are excited with the players we are adding to the team and to the franchise to get them going and put themselves in good situations to make the team. It’s been a whirlwind but exciting time, we are looking forward to it.”
  • On being at the Worlds, “there are some special players, spent some time with the US and Jack Hughes and what he can do. Really exciting to see what he can do and Kakko is having an amazing tournament. Any time you can see players in that stage and anyone that can have success at that age is an incredible talent.”
  • What is next, “next up is the combine and spend a week up there and interview players and watch workouts. We have some unsigned players to talk about, we will go over with JD some of the things we talked about it over the last month and get him up to speed so we can hit the ground running.”

David Quinn spoke with Pidto and said:

  • On adding JD, “we get the best of both worlds. Glen has been such an important part of the organization for a long time. Even with him stepping aside but is still going to be around and we can lean on him like JD alluded to and the fact that JD has been through this twice. He will be a great resource for Jeff and has great clarity for what we want to do and it feels really good today.”
  • On training camp, “It’s going to be fun, the one thing that motivates a player more than anything is competition and we will certainly have it in all positions. We are excited to have our core come back and all the new players and giving them an opportunity to make the team and make the next step.”
  • What is your role moving forward, “They ask my opinion on what we are looking for but our staff has done a phenomenal job over the last two years in taking the picks and assets Jeff has accumulated and I am there if they want to ask a player that I have a background with and where we see he might fit in. Our guys do a great job and I am just there for a resource.”

John Davidson was later a guest 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.”