Jarmo Kekalainen Out As Blue Jackets General Manager After 11 Seasons

By Coby Maeir on February 15, 2024 at 9:36 am
Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen speaks after hiring Mike Babcock as the new head coach during a press conference at Nationwide Arena.

Big changes are coming to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The team parted ways with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen after 11 seasons. Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, along with the team's hockey operations staff, will assume general manager duties while they find a replacement, the team said in its official statement. 

Kekalainen was hired on Feb. 13, 2013, replacing Scott Howson, and had a regular season record of 410-362-97 (.528 points%) in 869 games, the ninth-worst record in the league in that span. 

“This is one of the hardest days I have had in my career as Jarmo is a friend, someone I have a great deal of respect for and someone who has done a lot of good things during his time here,” Davidson said. “While the future of our club is bright, our performance has not been good enough and it is time for a fresh perspective as we move forward.”

2013-14 43-32-7 Loss, Round 1
2014-15 42-35-5 Did Not Qualify
2015-16 34-40-8 Did Not Qualify
2016-17 50-24-8 Loss, Round 1
2017-18 45-30-7 Loss, Round 1
2018-19 47-31-4 Loss, Round 2
2019-20 33-22-15 Loss, Round 2*
2020-21 18-26-12 Did Not Qualify
2021-22 37-38-7 Did Not Qualify
2022-23 25-48-9 Did Not Qualify
2023-24** 16-26-10 N/A

*season shortened due to COVID-19, won Qualifying Series and lost next round

**relieved of duties mid-season

In 2013-14, the first full season with Kekalainen as GM, the Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup playoffs and would qualify for the postseason four consecutive seasons from 2017-2020, highlighted by a first-round sweep over the 62-win Tampa Bay Lightning, the only best-of-seven playoff series the Blue Jackets have won in the franchise’s 23-year history.

“While the future of our club is bright, our performance has not been good enough and it is time for a fresh perspective as we move forward.”– John Davidson on firing Jarmo Kekalainen

However, the Blue Jackets have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons and are on track to miss again, as they sit in 29th place and the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with a record of 16-26-10 (.404 points%). 

“On behalf of our ownership group, I’d like to thank Jarmo for his hard work and commitment over the past 11 years,” Blue Jackets Majority Owner and Governor John P. McConnell said. “He and Tiina, and their daughters, are special people who will always be a part of our Blue Jackets family and I wish them the very best in the next chapter of their lives.”

Before Columbus hired Kekalainen in 2013 and made him the first European GM in NHL history, he spent three years as the general manager of Jokerit of the Finnish Liiga. Prior to that, he spent eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues, serving as assistant GM and director of amateur scouting with several years under Davidson's leadership.

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