"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 Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John 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."
Yesterday, the Blue Jackets fired Senior VP and GM Scott Howson, who had been with the team since June 15, 2007.
During Howson's tenure with the club, the Blue Jackets compiled a 173-190-59 record and made their lone appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a franchise-best 41-31-10 mark in 2008-09.
Kekalainen, 46, was the Assistant GM of the St. Louis Blues from 2005-06 to 2009-10. He first joined the Blues in their scouting department in 2002-03 after speaking several seasons as a scout with the Ottawa Senators.
He simultaneously served as Jokerit's GM from 1995 to 1999, while scouting with Ottawa, guiding the club to the league championship in 1998.
"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," Kekalainen said in a statement. "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."
During a three-year career as an NHL, the native of Kuopio, Finland skated in a combined 55 games with the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators. Over the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1993-94 seasons he collected five goals and eight assists for 13 points.
Prior to making his NHL debut with the Bruins, Kekalainen spent two seasons at Clarkson University where he recorded 80 points (35 goals, 45 assists) in 71 games. Following the 1988-89 campaign he was named to the Eastern College Athletic Conference First All-Star Team, scoring 44 points in 31 games.
Kekalainen is still in Finland and will head to Columbus as soon as his visa is cleared.