At 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time today the Columbus Blue Jackets named Jarmo Kekalainen the team's third General Manager. The move quickly followed the release of the team's prior GM. In making the move to select Kekalainen, Davidson showed that without a question this is his team. Kekalainen had previously worked with Davidson in St. Louis before returning to his native Finland to manage Jokerit.
Kekalainen is known as an excellent evaluator of NHL talent and comes from a family filled with pro hockey scouts. He's a logical choice for the Jackets job as the team is poised for its most important draft yet with 3 first round picks, a situation that is not unfamiliar to Kekalainen as he had the same situation in St. Louis once upon a time.
The move by Davidson caught many by surprise, but he has stated that he had been evaluating the situation for some time. Selecting Kekalainen may not have been an obvious choice to many, but it is a completely logical choice for Davidson as a man he had already worked closely with in rebuilding the Blues. The move eliminates any question as to what Davidson's role was in the franchise. This is his team, top to bottom and will only become more so in the coming months and years. The move also showed a level of decisiveness Jackets fans have been unaccustomed to in recent years.
This is merely the end of the beginning of the Davidson era. More moves are likely including the possibility of a new coach prior to the beginning of next season. What is clear already is that Davidson intends to build a winning hockey culture from top to bottom, which is as it should be.
We at F.A.N.S. once again wanted to take the opportunity to thank those of you who stood with us on that cold January day last year and have joined us since. Your voice and your effort made a huge statement to the owners and the hockey world as to how passionate this fan base is about their Columbus Blue Jackets. Now we all stand with John Davidson as he works to build the sort of team that we aspire for the Jackets to be as set forth in our mission statement.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
On January 28, 2012, approximately 300 Columbus Blue Jackets fans gathered on a cold day in front of Nationwide Arena though no game was scheduled. They gathered on that wintry afternoon to express their love for their team...and their frustration with its direction. More shocking, the whole thing had come together in less than a week with initial effort from fans of the team who congregated on the Hockey's Future message board.
A year later, and quite a bit has changed. Rick Nash--gone. Mike Priest? "Promoted" where he'd no longer provide input on hockey decisions after his crowning achievement, Jeff Carter, was traded less than twelve months after his acquisition. The roster which finished last in the NHL for the first time in franchise history? Largely overhauled. Even Scott Howson now finds his authority diminished after the hiring of John Davidson.
Did that one moment on January 28, 2012 cause all of these things? No. But that afternoon you showed the hockey world that, despite the critics who pointed to decreased ticket sales as a sign that Columbus was another "non-traditional market" failure, there was a passionate and devoted fan base yearning for a winner to cheer for and who demanded accountability from those in charge.
Hopefully the next time we all get together in front of Nationwide is on a warm summer day some June and the Cup we hoist that day is full size.