- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Unlike many people in hockey, John Davidson wasn’t afraid of the losing tradition of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I like the idea of the challenge. I mean, it’s possible. In fact, it’s something we’re going to do,” Davidson said Wednesday after being hired as the Blue Jackets’ new president of hockey operations.

The former player, Hall of Fame broadcaster and St. Louis Blues president believes he can transform a franchise with just one, brief trip to the postseason into a Stanley Cup contender.

“The hardest part is to go through the ups and downs of getting a club to get back on its feet and going in the right direction,” he said. “But if you have the right mentality, where your players understand how hard they have to work, we’ll do well.

“We’ll win our share. As we move along here, we’ll win more than our share.”

Davidson will take over a new position. The former president, Mike Priest, will now concentrate only on the business side of a team that had the worst record in the NHL last season (29-46-7, 65 points).

The 59-year-old Davidson served as president of the Blues for the past seven years. He left the Blues when new owner Tom Stillman bought out his contract in an effort to cut costs in the front office.

He will report directly to Blue Jackets majority owner John P. McConnell and will oversee general manager Scott Howson, who has come under fire for the team’s disastrous play and dwindling attendance in recent years.

Priest said Davidson would have “full authority and autonomy over the competitive side” of the franchise.

Howson could not say precisely how the two would work together but figured that would all work itself out.

“This is all about the Columbus Blue Jackets getting better,” Howson said. “That’s what I want to do and John makes us better.”

McConnell liked Davidson’s track record.

“He took over an organization that was losing,” he said, “and turned it into one that is winning.”

The Blue Jackets have had losing records in 10 of their 11 seasons. Their only respite was a short, four-game playoff sweep by Detroit in 2009. Their coach at the time was Ken Hitchcock, later hired by Davidson and the Blues after he was fired by Columbus. Hitchcock now is in charge of a Blues team that a year ago finished second in the Western Conference with 109 points.

During his time in St. Louis, Davidson helped the club acquire standouts such as forwards Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Chris Stewart, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

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