"Nobody's Going to Take Us Lightly Anymore," Says Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen

By Rob Mixer on June 11, 2018 at 11:43 am
Blue Jackets celebrate a goal against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs at Nationwide Arena.

Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

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The NHL is a copycat league.

No doubt, several teams will try and emulate the approach of the Vegas Golden Knights, who built a roster based on speed and skill without being top-heavy and saddled by the salary cap. Granted, they started with a salary cap number of $0.00, but it's still an interesting case in roster construction done by GM George McPhee.

The Blue Jackets were again eliminated in the first round, and again by the eventual Stanley Cup champions. They've got work to do in order to climb the ladder in a division that's produced the last three Stanley Cup champions, and even with titans like Washington and Pittsburgh in their backyard, the Blue Jackets aren't exactly surprising their opponents anymore.

"Nobody's going to take us lightly anymore," GM Jarmo Kekalainen said of his message going into the 2017-18 season. "We're not a secret. Nobody's going to think 'we're going to Columbus, that's going to be easy.' Everybody is going to be coming after us...I think guys answered the challenge. 

"Now, we've got to set our sights on getting better in the offseason, from inside (the organization) with the individual growth of players we have and possibly adding something in the offseason again and becoming a better team – that can win one playoff series, two playoff series, and ultimately four playoff series and be playing at this time of year. It would be really exciting."

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