COLUMBUS, Ohio - John Davidson was excited and cautiously optimistic at the same time after Nathan Horton was introduced as the newest member of the Blue Jackets.
HORTON AGREES WITH CBJ
Told during an interview with a local news station that he and his staff had a "hell of a week," Davidson paused before replying with "we'll see." Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Horton was the team's No. 1 target on the free agent market, and for a club that vowed to be aggressive in its quest to add goal-scoring, they were elated to get their guy under contract.
And what was encouraging for Davidson was the fit: Horton, a regular 20-goal scorer in the NHL and a player who has scored some significant goals in his career, works well with what the Blue Jackets are trying to build and all parties involved were on that same wavelength.
Most importantly, Davidson said, the Horton signing helps the Blue Jackets and Columbus take another step forward. Horton made the choice to come to Columbus, raise his family here and grow with an organization that he feels is headed in the right direction.
A mid-week trip to the Columbus Zoo was particularly appealing to Horton's 15-month old son, Zach.
"It means that we're getting noticed," Davidson told BlueJackets.com. "We're being noticed as a hockey team that plays hard, as an honest hockey club and I think people are getting to know our city which is even better. Nathan and his family wanted to be here, this was their choice.
"And as they got here, they looked at it closer and got to see some neighborhoods. The Columbus Zoo was outstanding, they all had a great time."
On the ice, the fit is even better, Davidson said. The Blue Jackets have identified the type of player that fits their mold: competitive at both ends of the ice, good hockey sense and a good teammate. In their meetings, negotiations and discussions to add to their group, Davidson and the management team saw those characteristics in Horton.
They also saw them in Marian Gaborik, who joined the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline. What they've been able to add are two dynamic players who know what it takes to be successful, and Davidson said they can't put a price on that. In addition, the Blue Jackets are able to fortify their lineup in the present, maintain it for the future and not at the expense of their top prospects.
"What we want to try to do is keep our club as good defensively as it was, and add offense without taking away from the defensive side," Davidson said. "And Nathan is coming from a Boston organization that's good at both ends of the ice - that's a big key for us. We needed another forward who's going to add to our top-six, and now we've added Gaborik and Horton.
"That helps us. It helps us by not squeezing any of the younger kids into the lineup. They can bloom and get going at their own pace, and we're looking forward to it."