Blue Jacket’s President Says Jarmo Welcome Back With Open Arms

John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen at the NHL Draft
Photo: Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Last week, the Columbus Blue Jackets fired their former General Manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, due to a downturn in performance over the past few seasons. The President of the Blue Jackets, John Davidson, is currently the interim General Manager until a new GM is found. Davidson has been interviewed several times since the firing to answer many questions about the event. Recently, he was interviewed on The Bob McCown Podcast and talked a lot about Kekalainen, where the Jackets are this season, where they’re going, and the recent search for a new GM.

Related Post: NHL Trade Rumors: A Look At The Columbus Blue Jacket’s Only Pending UFA

An 11-Year Legacy

Jarmo Kekalainen had been the General Manager of the Blue Jackets for 11 years. There were some successful seasons under his lead, but the past three seasons and the 2024 season have not gone according to plan. Having no playoff appearances since 2020, a few bad seasons in a row, and the Mike Babcock issue at the beginning of the season, John Davidson and company would decide that now is the right time to let Kekalainen go. There were no hard feelings from Davidson, and he had nothing but nice things to say about Jarmo.

“[The] 11 years Jarmo had as a General Manager in Columbus is a pretty good run. He told me when we talked about the change that it was 11 of the best years of his life. He’s a very strong man. I know it hurt him to have it happen, but at the same time, he understands the business. He was very thankful for the opportunity. We’re still good friends. We’ve been talking to each other since it happened, and we’ll remain friends for sure. He’s a really good person.” – John Davidson

Davidson also talked about the timing of the decision and said that it was in part due to the upcoming trade deadline on March 8. He stated there wasn’t one singular reason for the change, but he and others above his position felt that now was the right time.

“I don’t think there was any particular one thing. It’s just sometimes you have that gut feeling and you talk to the people above you, it was just time, that’s all there was to it.”

“Don’t Get Stale”

During the past few days since the firing, rumors have been going around the internet and social media that there may be a chance that Jarmo Kekalainen may still do some work for the Blue Jackets, albeit in a much different capacity. John Davidson was asked about this, and he said he would be open to the idea.

“He’s still under contract. We talked about things. I said listen ‘Don’t get stale’ … Why don’t you go away with your family with your wife, get some fresh air, just decompress. …. I’ve been fired that’s what everybody tells me that too. Then we talked about not getting stale. Why don’t you think about maybe doing some work? He talked about maybe going to the under-18s in Finland. He talked about the world championships, he talked about going to see our draft group that we have.”

Davidson went on to compliment Kekalainen on his drafting, being a great amateur scout, and how he’s able to understand young player’s talent. He said, “So if he’s still under contract for us, and he wants to do something, I’d open my arms and say, ‘You know what? You’re gonna be helpful for us if you do it, and it’s also helpful for you.'” He talked about how staying active and being “on the go” might be more beneficial to Kekalainen than sitting around doing nothing at home.

Whether your opinion of him is good or bad, one thing is for sure, Jarmo Kekalainen has left a lasting impression on the city of Columbus, the players, and the Blue Jackets organization.

Lance Schrock

Credentialed Writer covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Host of the BrewJackets Podcast.

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