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Former Jackets GM Howson opens up after firing

Feb 17, 2013, 1:16 PM EDT

Scott Howson Getty Images

It’s been a few days since former Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was fired by president of hockey operations, John Davidson and replaced with Jarmo Kekalainen.

Howson didn’t see the change coming, but he knows why it happened.

“Hey, I had 5 1/2 years here,” Howson told the Columbus Dispatch. “I had a great opportunity. We didn’t win enough. And when you don’t have sustained success, you open yourself up to being replaced.

“It’s professional sports. We all know that going in.”

The Blue Jackets are in their 12th season and have yet to win a playoff game. Early in Howson’s tenure, led in large part by goaltender Steve Mason‘s stunning 2008-09 rookie season, the Columbus Blue Jackets advanced to the postseason for the first time.

“The ecstasy of actually making the playoffs, seeing the clock tick down and realizing we were in, realizing how much that meant to the players and the fans … that’s the moment that really sticks out,” Howson recalled.

But the Blue Jackets were swept in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings and try as Howson might, he could never recapture that magic. Eventually even the face of the franchise, Rick Nash, gave up and demanded a trade.

That was the setting when Davidson was brought in after having successfully turned around the St. Louis Blues franchise. Howson lasted mere months under Davidson before being fired.

“These things are never easy for anybody,” Howson said. “I’m disappointed, but I’m not mad. That’s not in me. John needed somebody in the GM’s chair that he’s completely comfortable with, and I respect and understand that.”

Howson isn’t sure what the future will bring for him, but he wants to stay in hockey.

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