Blue Jackets expected to name Kekalainen as next GM

TSN.ca Staff
2/13/2013 3:51:51 AM
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The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved general manager Scott Howson of his duties.

The Blue Jackets and Finnish club Jokerit have scheduled simultaneous press conferences for Wednesday at 9:30am et/6:30am pt. where it is expected that Jokerit general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will be named GM of the Blue Jackets.

TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger first reported on Insider Trading on Tuesday that the Blue Jackets were interested in Kekalainen for their vacant position.

Kekalainen would be the NHL's first European general manager.

Kekalainen served as assistant GM and director of amateur scouting under Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson in St. Louis starting in 2002.

TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported on Twitter on Tuesday that sources tell him Kekalainen is in the third year of a five-year deal to manage the Finnish Elite League leaders, but he has an out clause should an NHL opportunity arise.

In his five years as general manager, Howson was only able to lead the Blue Jackets to a winning season once, leading the franchise to its only post-season appearance to date in 2008-09.

“Scott Howson is a caring man who gave everything he had to the Columbus Blue Jackets over the past six years,” said  Davidson. “This was a difficult decision but one that I thought was in the best interest of moving our hockey club forward. I have enjoyed working with Scott and want to thank him for his service.”

Howson was appointed as Blue Jackets GM prior to the 2007-08 season and was just the second person in franchise history to hold the title on a permanent basis. The team finished amongst the bottom 10 in the NHL in four of Howson's five seasons in charge. During his tenure with the club, the Blue Jackets compiled a 174-190-59 record.

The 52-year-old Howson has been responsible for several large trades that have shaped the current Blue Jackets roster, including a pair of deals including Jeff Carter as well as trading all-time franchise scoring leader Rick Nash.

Prior to the 2011-12 season, Howson acquired Jeff Carter from the Philadelphia Flyers in a surprising deal at the NHL Draft. That trade sent Jakub Voracek and its 2010 first-round pick - which the Flyers used to select Sean Couturier - in exchange for Carter, who had helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final the season before. Carter would last less than a year in Columbus, however, as Howson would deal him to the Los Angeles Kings prior to the 2012 NHL trade deadline.

The second Carter trade brought defenceman Jack Johnson and the Kings' 2013 first-round draft pick back to Columbus. Carter would help propel the Kings to the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship.

However, Howson's most high-profile trade came this past off-season when he dealt Rick Nash to the New York Rangers. Having long rumoured to be seeking a deal, Nash posted five-year lows in both goals and points with the Blue Jackets in 2011-12.

In July Howson dealt Nash, Steven Delisle and a conditional third-round pick in 2013 to the Rangers in exchange for Bradon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and the Rangers' first round draft pick in 2013.

Scott Howson (Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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