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Blue Jackets TV broadcaster hoping to stay on job bit longer

Davidge, with Columbus since its inception, retiring at end of playoffs

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- All Bill Davidge wants to do is keep his job for another few months.

Davidge, one of the original Columbus Blue Jackets employees, has been a studio analyst for their games on Fox Sports Ohio since 2010. He previously had announced his retirement effective the end of Columbus' season.

Since 2014, Davidge for has been battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma that also impacts the bone marrow. He said he will move to Naples, Florida, with his wife, Jayna, because being at sea level and in the warm weather is good for his aching joints.

But he's not ready to go just yet.

"When we have the Stanley Cup in June, I'll make my way to Florida," Davidge said. "Or sooner. Whatever happens. But my plan is to be here until June."

 

[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

His plan is off to a good start.

The Blue Jackets lead the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round. They can complete the sweep and win the first Stanley Cup Playoff series in franchise history in Game 4 of the best-of-7 series at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SUN, FS-O, SN360, TVAS).

Video: Blue Jackets keep shocking, take 3-0 series lead

Davidge, as he has been for all but one Blue Jackets home games in franchise history, will be in the building for Game 4, in his spot at the Fox Sports Ohio desk, directly next to the famed cannon, watching the Blue Jackets try to pull off one of the greatest upsets in NHL history.

Davidge called the past week the best time in Columbus history, with the exception of Oct. 7, 2000, the first game in franchise history, against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"We had Chicago down 3-0 at the end of one (period)," Davidge said. "Penciled in the parade route. Got beat 5-3."

It'll take an even greater collapse for the Blue Jackets to blow this 3-0 lead against the Lightning. Davidge, though, won't take anything for granted, not for a franchise that means so much to him.

"It's family," Davidge said. "I just walked into the rink and all of a sudden here comes the custodian giving you a hug, and here's the director of security giving you a hug. When you walk through the tunnels and everything else, there is always somebody you know. It's family."

Davidge may be the most well-known hockey personality in Ohio.

He grew up in Dunnville, Ontario, then played college hockey at Ohio State. In 1977 he started the hockey program at Miami University with Steve Cady, turning it from a club team to a varsity team in 1979.

"Who would have ever thought that two 22-year-old guys would be able to go in and convince an administration that hockey should be a varsity sport," Davidge said. "Now look at Miami today."

Davidge coached Miami until 1989, when he took a year off to take care of his son, Rob, from his first marriage. His first wife, Leann, died in a car accident in 1985.

He scouted for the Detroit Red Wings from 1990-94 while also doing television and radio broadcasting for Cincinnati of the International Hockey League. Davidge did the same thing for the Florida Panthers from 1994-98, and also worked in player development.

Things changed in 1998, when he was planning to join the coaching staff with Louisville, the Panthers' American Hockey League affiliate. That's when Doug MacLean, who had worked with Davidge with the Panthers, was hired as the Blue Jackets' first general manager and convinced Davidge to come with him.

"When I didn't take the Louisville job, [Vegas Golden Knights coach] Gerard Gallant got it," Davidge said. "I told Doug I'm not going to commit full time, that it would be two years, so I took a leave of absence [from Miami]. After the second year Doug made sure I didn't go. He hooked me and [former Blue Jackets broadcaster] George Matthews up together on the radio."

Davidge moved to the television side in 2010. He said he never has thought about getting back into coaching.

"He's such a classy guy, just a true pro," Blue Jackets broadcaster and former forward Jody Shelley said. "He does the same thing all the time. He's perfect. He really is. He does his notes perfectly. He's a real proud member of the Blue Jackets and he's like that every day."

That won't change, Davidge said, even when he retires to Florida to work on his golf game, trying to drop from a five handicap to a scratch. He will remain with the Blue Jackets in an ambassador role.

"I'll always be part of this organization until death do us part," Davidge said.

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