Personable Kyle Davidson brings down-to-earth assuredness to Blackhawks’ GM role
Fans might or might not like his trades to come, but they’ll like them more if they hear Davidson — who exudes a relatable confidence — explain them.
Kyle Davidson was restricted this week to typical general manager-speak about his short- and long-term plans for the Blackhawks. He didn’t — because he couldn’t — disclose many concrete details.
But in more private settings or when he is discussing less closely guarded topics, the more open, friendly, personable side of Davidson’s personality shines.
Consider, as evidence, a story he told Wednesday about the moment CEO Danny Wirtz gave him the news of his promotion over a recent breakfast.
‘‘I had no clue what was coming,’’ Davidson said. ‘‘I didn’t know if this was the ‘good breakfast’ or the ‘bad breakfast.’ His process in telling me was walking me through different things they learned and how their understanding of the role of GM had changed throughout their interviews and their due diligence. I stopped listening and started thinking: ‘Is that good? Is that bad? Is that good? Is that bad?’
‘‘All of a sudden, he’s like, ‘We’d like for you to be the 10th general manager in Blackhawks history.’ I had a big chill run through my body. I think I just said, ‘Uh, well, yeah!’ I tried to say something with great retrospect, some kind of pronouncement, [but] I think I said just some gibberish. There was nothing intelligible that came out of my mouth.’’
Davidson’s predecessor, Stan Bowman, didn’t lack loquaciousness, either, but his formal, buttoned-up style prevented much emotion from seeping into his words. Talking with Bowman never quite felt like a person-to-person conversation.
Davidson, by contrast, isn’t nearly so buttoned up — even literally, as his long coat Wednesday covered only a casual blue sweater.
‘‘He’s honest,’’ interim coach Derek King said. ‘‘He doesn’t hold back. He tells it how it is. He knows what needs to be done. Sometimes you’re going to hear what you probably don’t want to hear, but it’s the truth. That’s the way he operates.
‘‘There’s no phoniness or anything with Kyle. He’s got a pulse on everything, and he knows what to expect. And we know what we need to expect from him, what he wants us to do.’’
In a Hawks organization dying for a modern-day makeover — needing to relate more to the everyday Chicagoans it must win back as fans — Davidson’s personality, not to mention his vision as GM, should make a positive difference.
Business president Jaime Faulkner would be wise to get her new permanent co-worker into the media and out in public as much as possible. Fans might or might not like the tear-it-down moves Davidson inevitably will initiate, but they almost certainly will like the moves more after Davidson explains them than they would otherwise.
As Wirtz said Tuesday: ‘‘When I leave a meeting with Kyle, I feel better.’’
Davidson exudes confidence in the right way, with no accompanying arrogance or stubbornness.
He’s comfortable listing both his self-identified strengths and weaknesses. The former category, for the record, includes his strategic planning, his eye for player talent — ‘‘especially at the amateur level’’ — and his understanding of salary-cap nuances and the collective-bargaining agreement. He wants to diversify the sources of his information, too, by building out the Hawks’ analytics department.
The latter includes the fact he didn’t play high-level hockey himself, so he didn’t learn what exactly works and what doesn’t in the locker room. That explains why he brought former Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell — who is expected to assume a major front-office role — everywhere with him this winter.
And he insists he wants to be judged simply by his work and its results.
‘‘I know what’s required [to be GM],’’ Davidson said. ‘‘I know I’m qualified. And that assuredness in myself will prevail in the end. People will see that I am capable and that I am my own person with my own thoughts and ways of doing things. It’s going to be a body-of-work thing.’’