The Columbus Blue Jackets Have Officially Hired Don Waddell to Lead Hockey Operations

By Ed Francis on May 28, 2024 at 2:03 pm
The Columbus Blue Jackets have made it official, hiring Don Waddell to lead hockey operations.
© James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets have their man.

The team has announced the hiring of Don Waddell, who will take over and lead hockey operations effective immediately. Waddell's official title is president of hockey operations and general manager.

Waddell fills the general manager post left by Jarmo Kekalainen, who was fired after 11 seasons in February. John Davidson, who has served two stints as Blue Jackets' president of hockey operations dating back to 2012, will take on a new role as senior advisor to hockey operations.

“To our fans, we remain committed to providing all the necessary resources to build a team and organization that competes for the Stanley Cup,” said Blue Jackets Majority Owner and Governor John P. McConnell. “After spending time getting to know Don, I believe his experience and leadership will take us down the path to success.”

Waddell becomes the fourth full-time general manager for the Blue Jackets, following Kekalainen, Scott Howson and Doug MacLean. He's also the first hockey operations leader for the Blue Jackets other than Davidson since 2012. While not interim, Waddell's role as general manager may be brief if he decides to hire a general manager in the near future.

Before joining the Blue Jackets, Waddell had been president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes since 2014 until his resignation earlier in the month following reports he interviewed for the opening in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets biggest gain with Waddell is the wealth of experience and respect he brings to the club. After four years as president of the Hurricanes, Waddell added general manager to his duties in May 2018 and, following nine consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, the Hurricanes saw immediate and sustained success once Waddell took over as general manager. Under his leadership, the Hurricanes have won at least one round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the last six seasons. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Columbus Blue Jackets as this is an organization that has everything you need to have success at the highest level,” said Waddell. “It’s a wonderful city with passionate fans, strong ownership, first-class facilities, and a desire to be the best. I’d like to thank the McConnell family, Mike Priest and John Davidson for this opportunity, and look forward to being part of this community.”

It's the longest such streak in the NHL, and with the Hurricanes top young players locked-up long term as a result of Waddell's work, one that has the potential to continue for several more seasons.

Prior to his tenure with Carolina, Waddell was the general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) from 1998 to 2010 and was the assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings for the 1997-98 season. His lone season there ended with the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup.

Waddell also served as a scout with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012 until 2014.

The timing of Waddell's addition to the Blue Jackets front office staff means that he will be able to join the team for both next month's NHL draft, as well as free agency this summer.

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