Along with the usual team updates — Tyutin’s knee, Shanny’s head, Straka’s shoulder — I spent most of yesterday working on a story about “John Davidson’s return to the Garden”:http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070303/SPORTS01/703030388/1034/SPORTS today.
One of the personal disappointments heading into this season was knowing JD wasn’t going to be around seeing how he was one of the few people involved with the Rangers that I knew fairly well beforehand. As many of you know, JD is an avid golfer — or at least he had been an avid golfer before he got a real job — and since I had been covering golf for several years before this season, he and I always had plenty to talk about.
Anyway, there were two related nuggets that never got in to the story, both by way of Tom Renney when I asked the coach about JD.
One is this, and it speaks to the rare influence Davidson had as a broadcaster: when Renney first got the job as Rangers coach, he made a point of sitting down with JD since he thought Davidson had a better feel for Rangers fans than anyone.
“I said, ‘You’ve been here forever, John. What are the fans looking for here? What do they like in their team? What’s their need and what’s their desire?” Renney said. “He was very good to me in explaining and giving his take. I thought it was excellent insight and a very smart move on my part. One of the few I’ve made, I suppose.”
In fact, so appreciative was Renney for Davidson’s advice that he was happy to return the favor earlier this season. That was when the Blues got off to a dismal start and Davidson was preparing to fire coach Mike Kitchen. Knowing that Renney had a window into potential replacement Andy Murray, Davidson called Renney.
“I knew Andy really well. We’re good friends and we’ve worked together in the past,” Renney said. “So I hope I was able to pay (John) back because he sure helped me out.”
Sure enough, Davidson hired Murray, and the Blues have actually played impressive hockey ever since. Of course, given the importance of tomorrow’s game for the Rangers, I remarked to Renney he should hope his gesture doesn’t come back to bite him.
The coach rolled his eyes.
I’ll have more from the Garden in a bit. No word on Martin Straka yet. But that, along with the new defensive pairings, will be the most pressing news pre-game….