Blue Jackets Hire 1st European As NHL GM - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Blue Jackets Hire 1st European As NHL GM

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Jarmo Kekalainen Jarmo Kekalainen

Blue Jackets team President John Davidson says when he fired General Manager Scott Howson Tuesday night it was a move to propel the CBJ into a new era.

"This is not about Scott (Howson). This is about changing a culture to where I need to get to," Davidson said Wednesday morning.

That culture change includes making NHL history. Davidson announced Jarmo Kekalainen will become the first European-born General Manager in the NHL when he takes over as the Jackets' GM. Davidson announced Kekalainen will join the team as soon as he can work through immigration out of his native Finland.

Kekalainen, who has served as President and GM of the Finnish elite league team Jokerit since 2010, will become the third GM in Blue Jackets history.

Kekalainen and Davidson have an accomplished working history together. Kekalainen served as director of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Blues when Davidson worked as team President there. Together, they turned the Blues from one of the NHL's worst teams into a playoff and Stanley Cup contender. It's a similar mission they're taking on with Columbus, which finished last in the NHL last season.

"Hockey is a truly global game and there are very few people whose knowledge of the game in North America and abroad surpasses that of Jarmo Kekalainen," Davidson said.  "He is intelligent, hard-working and a tremendous evaluator of talent.  He is a terrific addition to the Blue Jackets family and will play an important role in our efforts to move our organization forward in the coming years."

Kekalainen played 55 career NHL games with Ottawa and Boston and also played professionally in Finland and Sweden.

"I am very grateful to the McConnell family, John Davidson and the Blue Jackets organization for this opportunity and am looking forward to getting started," Kekalainen said in a statement released by the team.  "We have a great challenge before us, but I am confident through hard work, organization and commitment that we will achieve our goal of building a Stanley Cup contending team."

Kekalainen is 46 years old and is married with two young daughters.

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