Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager and Alternate Governor Jarmo Kekalainen today announced several promotions within the club's hockey operations department. Bill Zito has been promoted to senior vice president of hockey operations, associate general manager and alternate governor, while Basil McRae and Josh Flynn have been promoted to assistant general manager and Chris Clark to director of player personnel. In addition, former captain Rick Nash has been named special assistant to the general manager.
Zito joined the club in August 2013 as assistant general manager and was promoted to associate general manager last September. He will continue to be an integral part of the club's management team, particularly in the areas of contract negotiations, scouting, player development and salary cap management and budgeting.
McRae has served the Blue Jackets as director of player personnel for the past three seasons. He has over 20 years of experience as a scout, was the alternate governor and general manager of the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights from 2014-16, and enjoyed a 16-year NHL playing career from 1981-96.
Flynn joined the club in June 2008, most recently serving as director of hockey administration. He is involved in all facets of the department with an emphasis on salary cap management, contract research and negotiations, salary arbitration, statistical research and planning, and is the club's liaison to the NHL on matters pertaining to the collective bargaining agreement.
Clark joined the Blue Jackets as a development coach in 2012 and was most recently the club's director of player development. He tallied 103-111-214 and 700 penalty minutes in 607 career NHL games from 1999-2011. He served as captain of the Washington Capitals from 2006-09 and tallied 8-12-20 and 59 penalty minutes in 89 games with the Blue Jackets from 2009-11.
"Our club has made great strides in recent seasons thanks in part to the experienced and talented group of individuals within our hockey operations department," said Kekalainen. "We believe it was important to recognize contributions and maintain consistency within our group in order for us to continue to improve and work towards our goal of winning a Stanley Cup."
Nash, who announced his retirement as a player in January following a 15-year career, will assist the club's hockey operations department in a variety of areas, including player evaluations, prospect development and player recruitment.
"Rick is the most decorated player in Blue Jackets history and was one of the game's most respected players during a career that included multiple All-Star Games, Olympic and World Championship gold medals and a Stanley Cup Final appearance," said Kekalainen. "He cares deeply about the Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus and will be a great addition to our organization."
Nash, 34, spent his first nine NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets after the club selected him with the first overall pick at the 2002 NHL Draft and served as the club's captain from 2008-12. He is the franchise's all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points as he registered 289-258-547 and 568 penalty minutes in 674 games from 2002-12. In 1,060 career NHL games, the Brampton, Ontario native had 437-368-805 and 750 penalty minutes with the Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
Nash was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and an All-Rookie Team selection in 2002-03. He won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer in 2003-04 when he notched 41-16-57 in 80 games and received the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2008-09 for his contributions off the ice and in the community. He appeared in six All-Star Games, including five as a Blue Jacket (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011) and one as a Ranger (2015), and represented Canada at three Olympic Games (2006, 2010-gold and 2014-gold), four IIHF World Championships (2005-silver, 2007-gold, 2008-silver, 2011) and one IIHF World Junior Championship (2002-silver).