While the news that John Davidson is seriously interested in a position with the Blue Jackets is heartening, there are reasons beyond the lockout not to get too excited just yet.
The former goaltender, hall of fame broadcaster, and experienced executive is now "on the beach" for the first time in almost seven years, and it's known that members of the Columbus front office, including team president Mike Priest, reached out to Davidson during his "interview window" earlier this summer.
For his part, it sounds like Davidson is equally interested in the Blue Jackets, with the Dispatch article using quotes like "I liked what I heard from them, and I liked what I saw that day. It's an absolutely beautiful building, it's in a great area, and it's really got a chance to be something special."
My personal favorite to get your mental salivary glands wagging is this one: "I want a challenge," Davidson said. "I'm interested in hearing what might be out there. There's lot of energy in this old broken-down body." If there's a more challenging team to step into than Columbus, man, I don't know.
But wait a minute before you send Davidson (or J.P. Mac) a bouquet of roses and a few boxes of chocolate.
While Davidson would be a great hire for Columbus, there's no guarantee he's coming here, and, to keep up the dating metaphor, no indication he's moving in with us any time soon.
The first problem with hiring John Davidson is simple: Even with what I suspect is a generous severance package from St. Louis (at last report, hammering out the exact details of his golden parachute was part of the reason the separation took so long), Davidson is not going to work pro bono. (After all, free advice is worth just that, but if you're being paid, it means they'll value what you have to say.)
Based on his experience, resume, and tenure, it's not unreasonable to expect Davidson to command a salary in the high six figures, perhaps even seven. That doesn't seem so bad compared to, say, $5.5 million dollars for James Wisniewski's paycheck, but the lockout complicates things.
As it stands, the Blue Jackets are cutting the work weeks for their front office staff to save money while the team effectively has no access to their primary source of income. To add that financial demand, even if the team "saved" by perhaps reassigning Mike Priest back to another role within JMAC, Inc and using the money earmarked for his salary to pay J.D., is a risky move, especially if the lockout eventually threatens the entire season.
Which Team Is He Talking About?
Davidson's quotes about the state of Columbus vs. St. Louis at the point he took over are attractive, particularly when he says the Blue Jackets are not far off, but again, consider the lockout.
If the team should lose this season, a number of players suddenly become, if not at risk, certainly harder to hold on to.
Vinny Prospal and Adrian Aucoin would both be UFAs, and each could easily choose retirement. Mark Letestu could also hit the market, and would be a nice depth player to keep in the system. And the list of potential RFAs is almost as long as your arm:
Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson, Sergei Bobrovsky, Steve Mason, Allen York, David Savard, Matt Calvert, Ryan Russell, Theo Ruth, Cody Bass, and Cody Goloubef would all be RFAs, and all in need of at least qualification, if not pay raises.
The majority of those players would likely be retained - I can't see the team allowing Cam, AA, or Bob to walk, for sure, but we'll also be dealing with different CBA rules after the lockout, one way or another, and it's tough to predict how that will affect the team's roster decisions, and that's a lot of young talent and potential depth that's suddenly on the block.
People Say A Lot Of Things
When you come right down to it, there are a lot of reasons why John Davidson SHOULD be a great fit for Columbus, and why a lot of very smart hockey people thing he WOULD come here. But at this point, we have to remember it's all smoke.
Yes, the Blue Jackets talked to him. Yes, Davidson sounds like he'd enjoy the opportunity. Yes, he would fill a lot of concerns that people inside and outside of Ohio have raised about the front office.
But he could decide to go back into broadcasting, and I have no doubt he'll be pitched at hard by NBC/Comcast, the CBC, and TSN. He could decide to look at a role with another club.
Most importantly, by all indications, nobody at the Blue Jackets' front office has picked up a phone. Signs are "encouraging", but they aren't talking yet.
Until there's word of additional contact between the two sides, even if it's informal negotiations with an understanding that things will get serious if and when the lockout approaches an end, it's fine to think it would be a good idea, but it's important not to get your hopes up too far.
After all, if there's one thing last season taught it, it's how painful it is to see those hopes come crashing down.