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Blue Jackets name Kekalainen as GM

The SportsXchange

The struggling Columbus Blue Jackets moved quickly to replace fired general manager Scott Howson, hiring Jarmo Kekalainen as his replacement on Wednesday.

Howson was relieved of his duties on Tuesday by director of hockey operations John Davidson after nearly six years with the Blue Jackets.

Kekalainen, 46, becomes the first European general manager in the NHL. His last hockey job was general manager for Jokerit in the Finnish league.

Davidson and Kekalainen previously worked together with the St. Louis Blues. Kekalainen was the Blues' director of amateur scouting. He also served as the Ottawa Senators' player personnel director in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Kekalainen is considered a good talent evaluator, having been responsible for the Senators drafting Marian Hossa and Jason Spezza and assembling the talent that has led to the Blues' recent rise.

"Jarmo is a person with a world of experience," Davidson said at Wednesday's press conference in Columbus, according to ProHockeyTalk.com. "He's very intelligent about the world of hockey. He's very excited."

In 12 seasons since the Blue Jackets came into the NHL as an expansion franchise, the club has reached the playoffs once, in 2009. This year, Columbus has a 4-7-2 record and is stuck in last place in the Central Division with 10 points.

Howson, 52, joined the Blue Jackets before the 2007-08 season. The Jackets compiled a 173-190-59 record during his tenure.
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