The Blue Jackets general manager fires

The Blue Jackets general manager fires

The Columbus Blue Jackets, last in the Eastern Association of the National Hockey League (NHL), fired their general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on Thursday.

After two consecutive defeats, the team from Ohio scores 42 points and is heading for its fourth consecutive elimination from the series. Kekalainen's tenure began eleven years ago, in February 2013. Under his leadership, the team never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

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“This is one of the most difficult days of my career because Jarmo is a friend and someone I respect enormously. “He accomplished a lot of good things during his time here,” John Davidson, president of hockey operations, said in a news release. Even if the future of our club is bright, our performance is not good enough and it is time to focus on a new perspective to move forward.

As a result, Davidson will assume the roles of CEO on an interim basis. He will be responsible for preparing for the trade deadline.

“Sometimes, in a turbulent season with ups and downs, the time seems ripe to complete a stage and move on,” he said at a news conference. We did good and young ones hatched. That is the current feeling and the decision we have made as a group.”

Vincent except

The year 2023-2024 was a very eventful year for the Jackets, who appointed Pascal Vincent to lead the club after the departure of Mike Babcock, who did not play a single game.

The Quebec coach's job would be safe for now as Davidson indicated there would be no further changes in plans at this point. However, the interim CEO will conduct an “A to Z” assessment of the team upon return from the three-game trip to the American West.

“Conversion, conversion, whatever you want to call it, is not important to me. What is important is that we improve. The future of our club is our good veterans and our young people who are developing,” explained Davidson.

Close to Kekalainen, the 70-year-old realizes that the last few years on and off the ice haven't been easy for the Jackets. In addition to Babcock's early release, the death of goalkeeper Matiss Kivlenieks in July 2021 had a major impact on the organization.

“Some difficult things happened here. We will continue to work to improve in all aspects. […] We know we are going in the right direction,” assured Davidson.

Already calling

Even if the Jackets president says he doesn't have a candidate in mind to be the next general manager, certain names will quickly pop up in the rumors. Former team player Mathieu Darche is patiently waiting for his chance with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I'm looking for someone […] energetic, intelligent, described Davidson. Someone who can evaluate players and understands the analytical approach. I know if we discuss this, someone will notice. Nothing is off limits, we will look everywhere.”

“I think we’re going to get a lot of calls; In fact, it has already begun, he continued. It's a good situation here with the owners, the city and the talented group we've put together. It's not like you have to start all over again. I think there will be a lot of interest.”

The Blue Jackets, who had a few days off before traveling west, will visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.