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Davison uncovered hidden gems for Blackhawks

by Bob Verdi / Chicago Blackhawks
A talented scout, Jack Davison (third from left) helped scout unheralded prospects including Steve Larmer and Ed Belfour.

Jack Davison, who served the Blackhawks in various executive roles over six decades, died last Saturday in Oakville, Ont. He was 85.

Davison joined the Blackhawks in 1959 as a scout responsible for Ontario, but his value was such to the organization that he soon became the chief scout for eastern Canada. In time, he was appointed head of scouting operations for the franchise, then player personnel director, assistant general manager and vice president.

Davison was ubiquitous around the rinks throughout Canada, surveying amateur prospects, and a frequent presence in Chicago Stadium, where he observed the parent club while consulting with Blackhawks front office personnel. For many years, Davison was a trusted and loyal co-worker of general manager Tommy Ivan and coach Billy Reay.

During Davison’s tenure, the Blackhawks acquired several exceptional players through the National Hockey League draft: Doug Wilson in 1977, Keith Brown in 1979, Denis Savard in 1980, Eddie Olczyk in 1984 and Jeremy Roenick in 1988. They were all first round selections, but Davison’s department also uncovered less-heralded talents such as Steve Larmer, who was selected in the sixth round during the 1980 draft and evolved into an All-Star winger. Davison was also instrumental in finding and signing Ed Belfour as a free agent; he became a Hall of Fame goalie.

At one point, Davison was considered the heir apparent as general manager upon Ivan’s move to vice president. However, in a regime change, Bob Pulford joined the Blackhawks as general manager/coach in 1977. Davison, loyal as ever, remained with the franchise as Pulford’s able assistant and sounding board. The Blackhawks rarely considered a trade or roster maneuver without drawing on Davison’s experience and knowledge.

An exceptional athlete, Davison contemplated a career in baseball and made it as far as Toronto’s team in the International League, one level below the major leagues. As a hockey player, Davison played with Toronto’s noted “Young Rangers” and advanced to the American Hockey League in Baltimore, also just a step shy of the NHL. Davison was a splendid golfer who, as an amateur, competed in 1949, 1950 and 1951 in the Canadian Open, one of the oldest and most prestigious PGA Tour events in North America. He was also a teaching pro at Oakville Golf Club. In 1956, he turned to coaching minor hockey in Oakville, where in 2003 he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

Davison was a consummate gentleman, a popular and respected ambassador for the Blackhawks, not to overlook his impeccable wardrobe. Rumpled friends and admirers frequently asked, somewhat hopefully, what Davison did with his old suits. That is, until the truth set in—Davison never had an old suit. He was an engaging man with a fine sense of humor, but it seemed as though he read every word that was written about the Blackhawks. If he felt an article or column regarding his beloved organization was unfair, you heard about it, firmly yet politely.

Davison is survived by wife Isobel, and three children: Kerry, Kathy and Susan. Visitation will be at Glen Oaks Memorial Chapel and Reception Centre in Oakville on Sunday, October 21, from 1-2 p.m., followed by a memorial service in the chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.

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