John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations / Alternate Governor
John Davidson was named president of hockey operations and alternate governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets in October 2012 and in his role oversees all hockey operations activities for the club. In his six seasons, Columbus has gone 238-178-42 (.566), including a franchise-best 50-24-8 record (108 pts) in 2016-17 and 45-30-7 (97 pts.), the second-best mark in club history, in 2017-18. The Jackets have registered 42-plus wins in four of the past five campaigns, had three consecutive winning seasons for the first time from 2012-15 and have earned three Stanley Cup Playoff berths.
He joined the Blue Jackets after serving as the president of hockey operations of the St. Louis Blues from 2006-12. During his tenure, the Blues averaged 39 wins and 90 points, including a 49-22-11 record, 109 points and a Central Division title in 2011-12.
One of hockey's most respected figures and the current chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, Davidson has enjoyed a long and distinguished career that spans four decades. Prior to his successful stint with the Blues, he was the longtime analyst for New York Rangers games on Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), as well as various NHL national broadcast partners in the United States and Canada. His outstanding work during a 20-plus year broadcasting career earned him numerous honors.
In 2009, he received the prestigious Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster by The Hockey Hall of Fame and was inducted on Nov. 9, 2009. The NHL and USA Hockey honored Davidson with the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to ice hockey in the United States in March 2004. He also won two New York Emmy Awards for "Outstanding On-Camera Achievement" in 2001 and 1995 and was part of MSG's Rangers broadcast team that won the CableACE Award for "Outstanding Live Event Coverage" in 1994.
Davidson began his broadcast career with MSG in 1983 and then spent two years on the popular "Hockey Night in Canada" from 1984-86. He rejoined MSG prior to the 1986-87 season, beginning a partnership with Rangers play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen that concluded following the 2005-06 season. During that time, Davidson also served as NBC's analyst for the NHL All-Star Game from 1990-93 and was lead analyst for the network's hockey coverage at the 1992 (Albertville, France), 1994 (Lillehammer, Norway), 1998 (Nagano, Japan), 2002 (Salt Lake City) and 2006 (Torino, Italy) Winter Olympic Games. He worked for TBS at the 1990 Goodwill Games, contributed to ABC's coverage of the NHL in 1994 and served on the numberone broadcast team with Mike Emrick for FOX's coverage of the NHL regular season, All-Star Games and Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals from 1995-1999.
In addition, his work included several All-Star Games and Stanley Cup Finals for OLN, ESPN and SportsChannel, the 1991 Canada Cup for "Hockey Night in Canada" and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey for FX. He served as ESPN's studio analyst for the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2005-06 season marked his final season in the broadcast booth on OLN (now NBC Sports Network) and NBC.
Davidson enjoyed a successful junior career as a goaltender with the Calgary Centennials prior to being selected by the Blues with their first pick, fifth overall, in the 1973 Entry Draft. That year, he became the first goaltender to go directly from junior hockey to the NHL as he appeared in 39 games with St. Louis during the 1973-74 season. After two years with the Blues, he joined the Rangers in June 1975 and went on to play eight seasons in New York. In 1978-79, he went 20-15-4 with a 3.52 goals-against average in 39 games and then went 11-7 with a 2.28 goals-against average in 18 playoff games to lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. He was forced to retire due to injuries during the 1982-83 season.
Davidson was born on Feb. 27, 1953 in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Calgary, Alberta. He and his wife, Diana, are the parents of two daughters, Lindsay and Ashley, and have three grandsons.
Jarmo Kekalainen, General Manager / Alternate Governor
Jarmo Kekalainen was named the third general manager in Columbus Blue Jackets history on February 13, 2013. Since his arrival, the Blue Jackets have enjoyed their best stretch in club history, posting the three best records in franchise history: 2016-17 (50-24-8, 108 pts), 2018-19 (47-31-4, 98 pts.) and 2017-18 (45- 30-7, 97 pts.). Columbus has also registered 42-plus wins in five of the past six campaigns, had three consecutive winning seasons for the first time from 2012-15 and earned four Stanley Cup Playoff berths during his tenure.
Kekalainen has also served as assistant general manager for Finland's World Cup of Hockey 2016 team and at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where the squad won a bronze medal. He arrived in Columbus after a stint as the president and general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League from 2010-13.
Kekalainen spent eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues from 2002-10. He joined the club as director of amateur scouting and was named assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting in 2005. In that role, he was involved in all facets of hockey operations, including professional scouting efforts and overseeing the club's amateur scouting and draft preparations. During his eight years in St. Louis, the Blues drafted players such as David Backes, Roman Polak, David Perron, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo.
Kekalainen was a member of the Ottawa Senators organization from 1995-2002, serving as director of player personnel for three years and also overseeing the amateur draft and the club's scouting efforts in Europe. While working with the Senators, he also served as general manager of IFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League from 1995 to 1999 and led the club to the league championship in 1998.
As a player, Kekalainen appeared in 55 career NHL games with the Senators and Boston Bruins during a six-year career. A left wing, he scored five goals and added eight assists for 13 points with 28 penalty minutes, including a career-high 1-5-6 and 14 penalty minutes in 28 games with the Senators during the 1993-94 season. He also played in the American Hockey League and his native Finland before wrapping up his playing career with Vasteras IK in the Swedish Elite League in 1994-95.
Before signing with the Bruins, Kekalainen played two seasons at Clarkson University from 1987-89. He was named to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference First All-Star Team after tallying 19-25- 44 and 47 penalty minutes in 31 games during the 1988-89 season. He also represented Finland at the 1986 World Junior Championships and the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament.
Kekalainen was born on July 3, 1966 in Tampere, Finland. He has a bachelor's degree in management from Clarkson University and a master's in business marketing from the University of Tampere.
He and his wife, Tiina, are the parents of daughters, Emilia and Sofia.
Bill Zito, Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations / Associate General Manager / Alternate Governor
Bill Zito was promoted to senior vice president of hockey operations, associate general manager and alternate governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 13, 2019 after serving as the club's associate general manager since Sept. 6, 2018. He previously served as the club's assistant general manager since joining the organization on Aug. 12, 2013. He brings nearly three decades of experience encompassing a variety of aspects of the game of hockey to the organization.
Since joining the Blue Jackets, he has been an integral part of the club's management team in the areas of contract negotiations, scouting and player evaluation, salary cap management and budgeting. He also is the general manager of the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus' American Hockey League affiliate, that captured the first Calder Cup championship in franchise history in 2016.
Zito served as the general manager of the United States Men's National Team that captured bronze at the 2018 IIHF World Championships in Denmark and was a member of the management team for the Team USA squad that won a bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championships.
Zito joined the Blue Jackets after using scouting as a platform to build Acme World Sports into one of the top hockey agencies in the business. In 2013, Forbes ranked Acme as the eighth-most valuable hockey agency in the world with almost $200 million in contracts under management. In 2007, The Hockey News lauded Zito in their "genius" issue for his scouting prowess, noting his ability to uncover late-round or undrafted, lesser-known players as well as the top picks.
As the agency's founder and president, he represented players such as Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas, Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask, Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi and AllStars Kimmo Timonen and Brian Rafalski.
He is a graduate of Yale University, where he played varsity hockey from 1984-87. After a one-year stint playing hockey in Europe, Zito attended law school at the University of Wisconsin and during that time served as an assistant coach for the Badgers hockey team. Upon earning his law degree, he practiced appellate litigation and sports law in Chicago before founding Acme in 1995.
Zito was born on September 16, 1964 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Julie, are the parents of twin daughters, Gigi and Frankie, and son, Billy.
Basil McRae, Assistant General Manager
Basil McRae was named assistant general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 13, 2019 after serving as director of player personnel since July 6, 2016. He rejoined the club after originally serving as a scout in 2013-14.
McRae, who has been a part owner of the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights since 2000, also spent the past two years as alternate governor and general manager of the club. Last season, London captured OHL and Memorial Cup championships. Prior to his original stint in Columbus, McRae served as a scout for the St. Louis Blues for five seasons.
In addition to nearly two decades of scouting experience, McRae played 16 seasons in the NHL between 1981-96, registering 53 goals and 83 assists for 136 points with 2,453 penalty minutes in 576 games with the Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. The Beaverton, Ontario native was a fifth round pick of Quebec in the 1980 NHL Draft.
He and his wife, Jill, are the parents of son, Philip, and daughters, Alexandra and Abigail.
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.
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, 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.