Welcome Back to the NHL, Jarmo Kekalainen
In the darkest days of the rebuild team President John Davidson could see a faint light in the distance. He didn’t expect the jorney to take almost a whole decade for the St. Louis Blues to reach it, but he did know that Jarmo Kekalainen, the organizations lead amateur scout and draft guru, would get them there. In the 2011-12 season a team lead by his best draft picks powered the Note to a Central Division Title, 100+ point season, and a second round play appearance.
Vindication through patience.
Today neither are with the Blues. Both are with the Columbus Blue Jackets as Kekalainen assumes the role of General Manager from the deposed King Nothing, Scott Howson. Previous the Finland native ran the SM-liiga side Jokertit s their GM and prior to that he was an Assistant GM with the Blues.
Columbus is once again in the basement of the NHL’s Western Conference. Currently residing in 13th place with just 4 wins and 1o points through 13 games as of Wednesday. Their organization lacks the depth to compete night after night arguably the league’s toughest division. Acquiring such depth via the draft Kekalainen has proven capable of. The challenge now is much more difficult. His sole focus is not just on prospects and their potential, but evaluating current NHL players, enticing them to come play in the armpit of the league, and constructing a lineup that can win.
It’s a tall order, but one the first full time European born GM is up for.
Give some credit to Columbus. They haven’t had many “hockey guys” around the organization. Seems like that dynamic is starting to change starting with Davidson and now Kekalainen.
What type of team will he construct? We’ll have to wait and see. My guess is one not too dissimilar from what the Blues have. Not in terms of play style, but roster composition.