After helping steer the St. Louis Blues through rough water in their climb from last place back to NHL respectability, team President John Davidson and the franchise have officially parted ways.
The announcement Friday made official what had been known for some time, that Davidson would be leaving the position he held since 2006.
"With Tom Stillman purchasing the club and running the club, he and I decided the contract was a burden to the team," said Davidson, owed approximately $6 million on a three-year contract extension given by the previous regime worth $8 million. "It was best to do the right things for the Blues and myself and we made an agreement."
The Blues' front office structure on the hockey operations side includes Doug Armstrong as executive vice president and general manager, Dave Taylor as vice president of hockey operations, Al MacInnis as senior advisor and Kevin McDonald as assistant GM and Peoria Rivermen general manager.
Davidson, 59, was named Blues president in 2006 when the former ownership group headed by David Checketts purchased the team.
Besides becoming the face of the franchise during a time when the Blues languished in last place and had trouble drawing fans, Davidson also helped lay the framework for future success.
"There were only 6,000 people in the stands, but they were the best 6,000," Davidson said of the early days of his tenure. "They were a loyal group, a special group. Now there's an event created whenever people go down to the Scottrade (Center)."
Through the draft and other player personnel moves by Davidson, Armstrong and others, the Blues reached the playoffs in 2009 and 2012 They won the Central Division championship last season while finishing second overall in the NHL standings, selling out nearly all their home games.
"This chapter's been a great one, 10 out of 10," Davidson said. "Just a great chapter in my life. To see the Blues being a major part of the city again is a really good, satisfying feeling."
Among the players who joined the franchise during his reign were Alex Pietrangelo, David Perron, Alex Steen, Andy McDonald and goalies Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
The Blues made good use of their draft picks by taking talented players, but also made trades involving veteran players that brought additional picks in return.
"We decided as a group to stay the course, to let the players develop," Davidson said. "Our scouts, led by Jarmo (Kekalainen), were a team. Jarmo did a great job drafting for us and we were able to make trades because we did a great job drafting.
"It all fit, it all just flowed. The results were 109 points last season. That doesn't mean it's over, it's just started. This group's got a chance to be good for a long, long time."
Stillman said Davidson did a lot during the franchise makeover.
"He came to the franchise at one of its low ebbs and was instrumental in rebuilding the franchise and bringing it to where it is today and setting us it up for the future," Stillman said.
Davidson interviewed with the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this year, but says his future in hockey is unclear.
"I haven't talked to anybody else, period, despite some things that were written and said," Davidson said. "Now that this is official, if the phone rings I'll answer it."
Davidson said he would consider another team executive position or a return to broadcasting.
Davidson was a first-round draft pick of the Blues in 1973 and played goalie for the Blues and New York Rangers during a 10-year NHL career. After he retired as a player, Davidson switched to broadcasting and became one of the best color analysts in the game over three decades.
Davidson was inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
"That intrigues me, but I'm not sure," Davidson said of a move back to the broadcast booth. "I just don't know. We'll see what comes along and see what makes the most sense for my family."
Stillman said the decision to move forward without Davidson was financially driven.
"It's not about the work, he's done great things in revitalizing the franchise and setting us up for the future," Stillman said. "But we need to get our financial house in order. We feel like the organization is overloaded and our expenses are out of line; the whole management team knows that, including J.D.
"He saw that situation and he was good enough to work something out with us."
Not everything the Blues did during the Davidson regime worked out. A variety of factors, injuries and inconsistent play among them, caused some free-agent signings and contract extensions to be less than successful.
"There have been mistakes," Davidson said. "It's a tough science but our batting average isn't too bad. When the puck drops again --hopefully sooner than later -- the team is in good shape. It's in real good shape.
"There's still talent coming in (Jaden) Schwartz and (Vladimir) Tarasenko and (Ian) Cole and people like that. It's just started."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.