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Davidson Overwhelmed to be Hall-of-Famer

by John Kreiser / St. Louis Blues
Blues President John Davidson will be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in November for his outstanding contributions in hockey broadcasting. (Getty Images)
Oh, baby. John Davidson's going to the Hall of Fame.

Davidson, a former NHL goaltender who is now president of hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues, is this year's winner of the Foster Hewitt Award for his contributions as a hockey broadcaster.

Davidson, a former goaltender for the Blues and New York Rangers, became one of North America's best-known hockey voices during two decades as an analyst for the Madison Square Garden Network, CBC and various other national hockey broadcast partners in the United States and Canada. He's been the lead analyst for the last five Winter Olympics and was given the Lester Patrick Award for his contribution to hockey in the United States in 2004.

Not bad for a goaltender whose playing career ended due to injury at age 29.

"For me, it's overwhelming," he said following a meeting of the NHL's presidents and general managers Tuesday, hours before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Mellon Arena. "I had a career as a player that ended short -- I was 29 when I retired because of injury. The world of television gave me a chance to stay in (the game).

"I've got about 300 people to thank -- it started with Madison Square Garden Network in New York, then Hockey Night in Canada, then back to New York. It opened up a whole world for me. I saw the world through hockey -- made a lot of friends and got tutored by a lot of people."

Davidson will be honored on Nov. 9, prior to the Hall of Fame inductions in Toronto. This year's inductees will be announced on June 23.

Davidson spent nearly 20 years doing Rangers games on MSG with longtime partner Sam Rosen and became an icon in New York -- bringing passion, wit and his trademark "Oh, baby" phrase to the microphone.

"Sam is wonderful," Davidson said. "All those people I worked with -- Sam and Mike Emrick … all wonderful, wonderful people."

Blues President John Davidson was a guest of NHL Live! on June 8, 2009. Listen
To Davidson one of the best parts of becoming a broadcaster was to be able to retain the concept of being part of a team, just as he was as a player.

"The analogy I like to use is that when you retire, and it happened prematurely, you want to stay in the game, and you want to find a way," he said. "Television is a team concept. (In hockey) you have a coach and a general manager and a bunch of players who have different jobs to make your team work. Television is a team, and I was part of it, and I was able to learn through a lot of people who cared, and I thank them all.

Davidson was proud to be part of some of the most successful teams in the history of hockey broadcasting -- with the accent on the team aspect.

"It's a team of people working together," he said. "That's why our sport is so great. You actually start as a kid, with what your parents do for you, and your community associations. It's all about team. Then you become a professional and it's all about the team you play for. Then you move on to another area, and it's about the team.

"It's a team sport. Putting on a hockey game for people to watch in their homes takes a lot of work with good people."

When one reporter joked that the silver-haired Davidson, who left broadcasting to take over the Blues in 2006, could make the Hall as both a broadcaster and an executive, he laughed.

"I don't have enough hair left after three years of this," he said of running the Blues, who were a surprise playoff qualifier this season. "We're doing OK in St. Louis. We're getting there, but there's a long way to go."

The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award is named in honor of the late "Voice of Hockey" in Canada. It was first presented in 1984 by the NHL Broadcasters' Association in recognition of members of the radio and television industry who have made outstanding contributions to their profession and to the game of hockey.
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