Five Potential Candidates To Be Next Blue Jackets General Manager

By Coby Maeir on February 16, 2024 at 9:55 am
Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson (left) and executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton (right) look on before Filip Mesar (not pictured) is selected as the number twenty-six overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre.
© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the Blue Jackets fired general manager Jarmo Kekalainen after 11 seasons with the team. In his media availability, president of hockey operations John Davidson said that the team will look "outside the organization" for Kekalainen's replacement. 

So, based on pure speculation, who could be the team's next general manager?

Jeff Gorton: Exec. VP Of Hockey Ops., Montreal Canadiens

Gorton is in his third season with Montreal and worked under Davidson as the Rangers' GM for two years, so they are familiar. TSN's Darren Dreger brought up his name on Thursday, adding fuel to the speculation. 

However, going from executive vice president of hockey operations to general manager would be a step down for Gorton, so maybe there would be a plan in place for him to be Davidson's successor after he retires, whenever that would be. 

Chris MacFarland: GM, Colorado Avalanche

MacFarland was with the Blue Jackets for their first 14 seasons, serving as team's director of hockey operations for six seasons and their assistant GM for eight more before moving on to Colorado, where he works under Joe Sakic. The Jackets would likely have to make him the top decision-maker to entice him to return to Columbus, as becoming the team's GM would be a lateral move. 

Mathieu Darche: Asst. GM & Dir. of Hockey Ops., Tampa Bay Lightning

Like MacFarland, Darche was a part of the inaugural Blue Jackets team, playing nine of his 24 games as a Blue Jacket in the 2000-01 season, so he's familiar with Columbus. He's been Tampa Bay's director of player personnel since 2019-20 and was promoted to assistant GM in 2022-23. 

Jamie Pushor: Asst. GM & Dir. of Player Personnel, Tampa Bay Lightning

Pushor was one of Darche's teammates on that inaugural Blue Jackets squad and spent parts of four seasons in Columbus. Since retiring, he spent the 2010-11 season as a pro scout for the Atlanta Thrashers before serving in that same role for the Lightning through 2017-18 before he spent the 2018-19 season as their director of pro scouting. Since 2019-20, he's been their assistant GM and director of player personnel. 

Gregory Campbell: Asst. GM, Florida Panthers

Campbell played his final professional season for the Blue Jackets in 2015-16 before joining their staff as an assistant development coach and a development coach with the AHL's Cleveland Monsters. In 2019-20, he served as a development coach for the Blue Jackets before joining the Florida Panthers organization in 2020-21 as their director of player development. Since 2021-22, he's been the GM of their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, while also serving as an assistant GM for the Panthers. 

The next GM of the Blue Jackets may not be on this list, but these five choices all have ties to the organization. 

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