SBD/February 14, 2013/Franchises

Hiring Of Kekalainen As GM Evidence Of Blue Jackets' "New Way Of Thinking"

Blue Jackets are receiving praise for their hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen
The Blue Jackets' hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen as GM shows why "ownership made the right decision” in putting President of Hockey Operations John Davidson in charge, according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Davidson is a “confident executive, not fearful of making a bold move" of hiring a European GM. Davidson thinks he “knows how a team should be built, and he thinks Kekalainen shares his vision” (USA TODAY, 2/14). In Columbus, Bob Hunter writes the move to replace former GM Scott Howson with Kekalainen shows that the organization is “truly changing.” This “wasn’t a public relations move.” What makes Davidson "believable is that he presided over a similar change in St. Louis." What makes Kekalainen’s hiring “positive is that he was director of amateur scouting for the Blues under Davidson and helped make that change with strong drafts.” They were “talking about things they have done before, which at least gives some shape to this fantasy" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 2/14). YAHOO SPORTS’ Cam Charron wrote struggling franchises like to “return to ‘grassroots’ type of coaching and management rather than think differently or broaden a search.” So “good on Columbus for introducing some new blood into the system, in more ways than one." Any “new way of thinking about the game should be welcome to hockey, and the fact that it took up until 30 per cent of the players in the league were European for one to be hired as a GM means it's an overdue move” (, 2/13).

: Kekalainen said, “America is all about immigrants. People coming into the country, looking for the great opportunities the country has to offer.” The GLOBE & MAIL’s Eric Duhatschek wrote, “If you believe ‘opportunity’ can be roughly translated into ‘massive, daunting, thankless challenge,’ then Kekalainen is correct.” He has “inherited one of the greatest opportunities in the south-of-the-49th parallel NHL: trying to turn the moribund, dysfunctional Columbus Blue Jackets into something resembling a playoff contender” (, 2/13).
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