He replaces Glen Sather, who stepped down in April after serving as team president since 2000.
Davidson's roots run deep with the Rangers. The former goalie played 222 games with the franchise from 1975 to 1983 before retiring due to injury. He became a popular color commentator for the team from 1986 through 2006, parlaying that success to a national gig as a color commentator for Fox Sports and NBC alongside Doc Emrick.
Davidson, 66, joined the Blue Jackets in October 2012 following a six-year stint in the same capacity for the St. Louis Blues. He was credited with increasing and reinvigorating the profile of both franchises with local fans and ticket holders. He also hired current Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, who worked under Davidson with the Blues, making him the first European-born general manager in NHL history.
Blue Jackets owner John P. McConnell praised Davidson's work with the franchise.
"When we hired John Davidson in October 2012, I said I thought he was the perfect person to lead our hockey operations efforts. Nearly seven years later, I believe I was right. He joined our team at a very difficult time and led a transformation that has resulted in consistent winning and appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs," McConnell said in a team statement.
"J.D. is a man of great character and compassion and I completely understand his interest in the unique opportunity before him. I know leaving Columbus is a difficult decision for him as he has a genuine love of our community and organization, but the possibility of returning to his roots in New York, where he spent three decades as a player and broadcaster, is an extraordinary circumstance for him and his family."
In late April, Davidson told ESPN that the talk about his return to the Rangers was "speculation" at that point.
"Obviously, Glen has stepped down. He's a great friend of mine. We played together in St. Louis back in 1973. We see each other in Western Canada, in the mountains, during the summer. We're friends," he told the ESPN ON ICE podcast. "I have not talked to anybody with the Rangers. I'm busy with the Columbus Blue Jackets. There's nothing. And until there's something, there's nothing. I don't worry about it or think about it. We have our hands full here."
Davidson leaves the Blue Jackets after their most successful season, advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in team history after a shocking first-round sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
He joins a Rangers team that just completed its second year of a rebuild, missing the playoffs both seasons. But they have a collection of solid young prospects, $41 million in cap space and two first-round picks this season -- including the second overall pick.