John Davidson has a simple philosophy when it comes to building hockey teams.
“You build it one brick at a time. One brick at a time is the only way to go, and that’s what’s going to happen here,” he said upon being introduced as the new President of Hockey Operations for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“You can only build a franchise by doing it the right way. And if you do it one brick at a time, you’ll solidify your foundation. And once you get there, it should be a good club for a good length of time. And we’re committed to that. There’s no other way to go.”
It sounds easy, but such an approach takes patience. And in a market like Columbus that’s been starved for a winner, patience isn’t an easy sell. Thus, last summer’s wild spending spree that was supposed to reinvigorate the franchise.
We all know how that turned out.
Fortunately for Blue Jackets fans that had to suffer through the embarrassment that was the 2011-12 season, there are plenty of reasons for optimism as the club enters a new era:
—- The hiring of Davidson, an experienced executive that most recently led the turnaround of the St. Louis Blues. No organization can be successful without the right leader. And a guy like Davidson isn’t going to take a job unless he thinks he can win.
—- Youth. In the prospect department, there’s Ryan Murray (19), Ryan Johansen (20), Tim Erixon (21), David Savard (22), and Cam Atkinson (23). Even “veterans” like Artem Anisimov (24), Nick Foligno (24), Jack Johnson (25), Derick Brassard (25), Brandon Dubinsky (26), Nikita Nikitin (26), James Wisniewski (28), Fedor Tyutin (29), and RJ Umberger (30) aren’t old.
—- More youth on the way. Columbus has three first-round picks in the 2013 draft.
If Sergei Bobrovsky (also young at 24 years old) can give the Jackets some half-decent goaltending, there’s no reason they can’t compete for a playoff spot this season (assuming there’s a season).
Beyond that, making the playoffs should be the least of their aspirations.