NHL: Kekalainen named new Blue Jackets general manager

The Columbus Blue Jackets have begun their cultural/identity change under team president of hockey operations John Davidson.

It began on Tuesday when the club announced the firing of general manager Scott Howson. On Wednesday it became official that the Blue Jackets had replaced Howson with former St. Louis Blues director of amateur scouting Jarmo Kekalainen, who becomes the first European general manager in NHL history.

Kekalainen was most recently the general manager of Jokerit in Finland’s top league, as he had signed a five-year deal in 2010, but as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported, the deal included an NHL “out” clause.

This move is significant for the Blue Jackets as they look to turn the franchise into a perennial contender. It takes time, but adding Kekalainen to the mix will definitely help a lot in terms of player development and an eye on top prospects through the draft.

Alongside Davidson, theses two form an all-star combo in terms of hockey management. While the Blue Jackets may not be ready to make the jump to the playoffs quite yet, they will be a force within the next couple seasons.