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Blue Jackets fire Howson, name Kekalainen new GM

Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 9:35 AM NHL.com

The Columbus Blue Jackets fired executive vice president and general manager Scott Howson on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets hired Jarmo Kekalainen to replace Howson. Kekelainen, 46, worked for Davidson as assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting when the latter ran the St. Louis Blues. Kekelainen was serving as general manager of Jokerit in Finland.

Kekelainen is the first European general manager in the history of the National Hockey League. He appeared in 55 NHL games as a player in the early 1990s for the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators.

"Scott Howson is a caring man who gave everything he had to the Columbus Blue Jackets over the past six years," team president of hockey operations John Davidson said in a statement. "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 named the second general manager in Blue Jackets history on 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.

"It's something I said when I got here, that I'd watch and evaluate," Davidson told The Columbus Dispatch. "I wanted to make a change in that area. I've been thinking more and more about it in recent days. It's a hard thing, but something I felt in my gut I needed to do."

The Blue Jackets beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 Monday night to improve to 4-7-2.

Howson was informed of Davidson's decision Tuesday morning, according to The Dispatch.

"He's a gentleman and a professional," Davidson said. "We had to do it the right way."

The highlight of Howson's tenure was the 2008-09 season, when the Jackets finished 41-31-10 and earned a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first and only time. Since then, they've never come close to making the postseason.

"Sometimes change is necessary," Davidson said. "It's just necessary. When you make changes, for whatever the reason you make them, it can be tough on some people.

"Scott gave his heart and soul to this. He's going to have a tough time with that. It's a big part of our life when you have a job like this.”

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