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Blue Jackets select Kekalainen as new GM

Feb 13, 2013, 9:44 AM EDT

Jarmo Kekalainen Getty Images

A day after firing Scott Howson, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected Jarmo Kekalainen as their new general manager.

Kekalainen’s most recent job was as the general manager for Jokerit of the Finnish league, but he also has extensive experience in the NHL. He was the Ottawa Senators’ player personnel director in the late 90s and early 21st century. During his tenure, the Senators drafted Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, and Jason Spezza.

He was later the director of amateur scouting in St. Louis when the Blues were drafting many vital pieces of their franchise, including Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes. During his tenure with St. Louis, Kekalainen worked with the Columbus Blue Jackets current president of hockey operations, John Davidson.

“Jarmo is a person with a world of experience,” Davidson said in Wednesday’s press conference. “He’s very intelligent about the world of hockey. He’s very excited.”

Kekalainen will take over a team with some great prospects, but a history of disappointment. The Blue Jackets are playing in their 12th NHL season and they have never won a playoff game. They don’t appear close to changing that either after trading the former face of their franchise, Rick Nash, over the summer.

That being said, the Blue Jackets have already accumulated three first-round picks for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, so Kekalainen will have an opportunity to breathe new life into the team’s rebuilding efforts.

“The Blue Jackets will be built through drafting and player development,” Davidson said. “It’s all part and parcel of how it’ll work going forward.”

He’s also the first European general manager, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted.

Related:

Blue Jackets fire GM Scott Howson

Report: Kekalainen likely to be named new Columbus GM

  1. buckyblackhawk - Feb 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    3 1st round picks next year, great chance for the Jackets to get going in the right direction.

  2. bcsteele - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Blues fan…

    I give them four to five years to be a play off contender. It could be sooner if they somehow solve their goaltending issue. These guys worked wonders for us. The central division is going to get even more tight in an already over competitive division.

    Should make for some great games. Good luck Jackets.

    • buckyblackhawk - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

      Who knows what the Central division or conference(NO!) will look like next year.

      Goaltending is tricky, because you can rarely draft a player and have them starting a year or two done the road. Goalies take a bit more time to develop. I hear they have some good back ups in LA/Vancouver/Anahiem.

      • contraryguy - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        The CBJ took a guy named Oscar Dansk in the latest draft with an early second round pick. Looked promising early but not running a very good record in OHL this season. And there are a couple of guys ahead of him in the system; at least there will be competition. Score enough goals on offense and GK will fix itself.

      • buckyblackhawk - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        They could just go to Finland and pick a random person off the street and I am sure they will do fine in net. The amount of great goalies that small country has is amazing.

  3. broadstbully33 - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Looks like CBj could finally be turning it around. This years draft could be a make or break year for this team. 3 first and 1 in the top 3 most likely.

  4. lionsflyersandredbirds - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Coming from a Detroit Lions fan, I saw a lot of striking similarities between our former-inept GM/President Matt Millen and Scott Howson. Piss poor player management and just all around underachievement. Hopefully this guy bring some fresh ideas into Columbus. I’d like to see Bobrovsky succeed!

    Plus his name is approximately 14 times more awesome than Howson’s…

    • jtrain1966 - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Don’t worry, they will ! It’s going to get tough in about 3 years or so . If they can get a couple of good free agents to sign with them, make a couple of trades, & draft the way they did here in St. Louis, it’s going to be difficult for not only the Blues but, the Wings, the Hawks, the Predators, & whoever else that will be in a division with us !

  5. valoisvipers - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    With Davidson and Kekalainen at the helm, they should be able to right this Blue Jacket ship.It’s been a wasted 12 years for the Jackets but they have some picks coming this year and it is said to be a strong draft.So let the rebuild begin the right way this time.

    • buckyblackhawk - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      You know your team has had a rough 12 years when division team’s fans are wishing your team well.

      • bcsteele - Feb 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Amen

  6. ethanmacleod1685 - Feb 13, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Not a jackets fan but after years of jokes by people at the expense of how bad they have been, I do hope they go towards the right direction and in the next few years they become contenders……… playoff contenders that is, lets not get to far ahead of ourselves.

    • jtrain1966 - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      I don’t think anybody was . You gotta learn to crawl, before you walk !

  7. quizguy66 - Feb 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    The Jackets are kinda taking on that Hartford Whalers vibe for me. I’m a Devils fan first and always but I’m pulling for the Jackets to get it together. JD was a great start and Kekalainen seems follow in that mold. These are the kind of moves that truly can transform a franchise (just like with Marshall Johnston for a time, David Conte, and of course the ultimate hire Lou Lamoriello).

    Here’s to hoping the cannon gets going.

    -QG

    • withseidelinn - Feb 13, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      I like your post QG, I think this hire came at the perfect time, as they still have over a month to consider trades before the deadline, and from what I’ve been reading, Kekalainen seems to be pretty good at drafting promising players. With 3 first rounders the CBJ could really turn into a promising team with one of the deepest prospect pools. I’m not a Blue Jackets fan but like a lot of people on here I would enjoy to see them rise up the ranks. John Davidson definitely knows what he is doing and that is a great start for the franchise.

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