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Blue Jackets announce additions to hockey operations staff

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OHIO — The Columbus Blue Jackets have added four individuals to the club’s hockey operations staff, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. Former Blue Jackets forward Fredrik Modin has been named a special assistant to hockey operations and longtime NHL player Jarkko Ruutu has been hired as the club’s first European development coach, while Blake Geoffrion and Rick Knickle have joined the club’s scouting staff.

Modin registered 232 goals and 230 assists for 462 points with 453 penalty minutes in 898 career NHL games over 14 seasons from 1996-2011, including 39-46-85 and 110 penalty minutes in 176 games as a Blue Jacket from 2006-10. He added 14-12-26 and 42 penalty minutes in 57 career playoff games and helped the Tampa Bay Lightning capture the 2004 Stanley Cup championship. A native of Sundsvall, Sweden, he was selected by Toronto in the third round of the 1994 NHL Draft and is a member of the exclusive “Triple Gold Club” comprised of players who have won the three most prestigious championships in world hockey – Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Championships gold medal.

Ruutu appeared in 652 career NHL games with Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Anaheim and tallied 58-84-142 and 1,078 penalty minutes from 1999-2011. He was selected by Vancouver in the third round of the 1998 NHL Draft. He won a silver medal with Team Finland at the 2006 Olympic Games and helped the squad finish in second place at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey tournament. The Vantaa, Finland native also appeared in six World Championship tournaments, capturing three silver and one bronze medal.

Geoffrion has rejoined the Blue Jackets, for whom he served as a pro scout during the 2013-14 season, in the same capacity. A second round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft of the Nashville Predators, he tallied 8-5-13 in 55 career NHL games with the Predators and Montreal Canadiens from 2010-12 before an injury ended his playing career. He also played four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the top collegiate player in the nation in 2009-10, and won a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Knickle will serve as an amateur scout for the Blue Jackets, bringing nearly 20 years of scouting experience to the club. He served as the director of amateur scouting for the Arizona Coyotes from 2011-14 and spent 13 seasons on the scouting staff of the Nashville Predators. A former goaltender, he played 17 seasons and close to 600 games in the American and International Hockey Leagues, posting a 241-171-30 record, 3.53 goals-against average and 19 shutouts in his 16 IHL seasons. Knickle also appeared in 14 games with the Los Angeles Kings from 1992-94 and became the second-oldest player in NHL history to play in his first NHL game at the age of 32. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia was a sixth round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 1979 NHL Draft, won five championships as a pro and played in both the Stanley Cup and Memorial Cup Finals.

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