Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/13/13 at 11:22 AM ET
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract with Jarmo Kekalainen to serve as the club’s general manager, Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson announced today. Kekalainen, who has been the president and general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League since 2010, becomes the third general manager in Blue Jackets history.
“Hockey is a truly global game and there are very few people whose knowledge of the game in North America and abroad surpasses that of Jarmo Kekalainen,” said Davidson. “He is intelligent, hard-working and a tremendous evaluator of talent. He is a terrific addition to the Blue Jackets family and will play an important role in our efforts to move our organization forward in the coming years.”
Kekalainen (pronounced kehk-uh-LIE-nehn) spent eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues from 2002-10 before joining Jokerit. He most recently served as the club’s assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting and was involved in all facets of hockey operations, including professional scouting efforts and overseeing the club’s amateur scouting and draft preparations. During his eight years in St. Louis, the Blues drafted players such as David Backes, Roman Polak, David Perron, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo.
“I am very grateful to the McConnell family, John Davidson and the Blue Jackets organization for this opportunity and am looking forward to getting started,” said Kekalainen. “We have a great challenge before us, but I am confident through hard work, organization and commitment that we will achieve our goal of building a Stanley Cup contending team.”
Prior to his arrival in St. Louis, Kekalainen was a member of the Ottawa Senators hockey operations department from 1995 to 2002. He served in a variety of roles, including as the club’s director of player personnel for three years. He also oversaw the amateur draft and the club’s scouting efforts in Europe. Among the players selected by Ottawa during this time were Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Antoine Vermette and Ray Emery. While working with the Senators, he also served as general manager of IFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League from 1995 to 1999 and led the club to the league championship in 1998.
Kekalainen, 46, appeared in 55 career NHL games as a left wing with the Senators and Boston Bruins during a six-year playing career. He scored five goals and added eight assists for 13 points with 28 penalty minutes, including a career-high 1-5-6 and 14 penalty minutes in 28 games with the Senators during the 1993-94 season. He also played in the American Hockey League and his native Finland before wrapping up his playing career with Vasteras IK in the Swedish Elite League in 1994-95.
Before signing with the Bruins, Kekalainen played two seasons at Clarkson University from 1987-89. He was named to the Eastern College Athletic Conference First All-Star Team after tallying 19-25-44 and 47 penalty minutes in 31 games during the 1988-89 season. He also represented Finland at the 1986 World Junior Championships and the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament.
Kekalainen was born on July 7, 1966 in Tampere, Finland. He owns a bachelor’s degree in management from Clarkson University and earned a master’s in business marketing from the University of Tampere. He and his wife, Tiina, are the parents of two daughters, Emilia and Sofia.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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