Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson On Kent Johnson's Demotion: "He's Way Up On Our List As Far As Our Future Goes"

By Coby Maeir on November 9, 2023 at 10:16 am
John Davidson speaks to the media at the annual Columbus Blue Jackets media luncheon.

Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson appeared on 97.1 FM's Rothman & Ice on Wednesday to discuss the team's overtime loss to the Panthers, the goaltending, and more. 

While he said his immediate action following the Blue Jackets' 5-4 defeat in Florida on Monday was more negative than positive, Davidson said he received texts from people that praised the team's fight, changing his stance. 

"I was proud of the way the guys came back," Davidson said. "We're gonna have lots of ups and downs. We're on a learning curve here with youth. We're on a learning curve with rust. We're on a learning curve with a new coach and system. And you know what? These guys battled back and I was proud of them."

Davidson, who played goalie for 10 seasons in the NHL, said that Elvis Merzlikins has come a long way since last season.

"As an old goalie," Davidson said. "I just see little things and I could tell he wasn't on and the coach made a good decision to make the change."

He also spoke about the play of Spencer Martin, who the team claimed off waivers from Vancouver during the preseason. Martin has a .928 save percentage, compared to Merzlikins' .897. 

"With Spencer, you have to have a kind of like a relief pitcher in baseball," Davidson said. "You have to be able to come in and get the job done no matter what the circumstances. And he came off the bench and did really well so I'm proud of him."

Davidson had high praise for rookie forward Dmitri Voronkov, who has scored 2-2--4 in six games since being called up. 

"There's nothing not to like," Davidson said. "The only thing he does not have is real NHL experience but he's more NHL player coming from another country than most players are. He's big. He's got a real good sense. He can make in-tight plays down low, whether it's behind the goal line or around the goal, he has no fear going to the net. He sticks up for teammates as we saw in Washington. There's nothing not to like."

Davidson also spoke about Kent Johnson, who was demoted to the AHL last week after a rough start to his sophomore campaign, saying that Johnson just needs to enjoy playing.

"We may try him at center ice a little bit in Cleveland," Davidson said. "The thing is to play and play free and have fun playing which he did for the two games he did play. He's way up on our list as far as our future goes. So we have no problems with the road you take to get to where you want to get to, sometimes there's potholes and bumps. I got set down in my second year when I was after my first full year in St. Louis. I know how it feels. But he's just got to keep going. He's a good kid with a great future. We love the kid and he's gonna be with us."

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