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Howson hired as Blue Jackets GM @NHLdotcom

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -The Columbus Blue Jackets, the only NHL team never in the playoffs, hired Scott Howson as their general manager on Thursday.

The former assistant GM for Edmonton will take over for Doug MacLean, who was fired in April after the Jackets struggled through another lackluster season at 33-42-7.

He had been with the team since its start in 2000. MacLean, who also was president, oversaw the drafts, signed free agents, made trades and sculpted the public perception of the franchise in its six years, when it had a record of 172-258-62.

"I'm excited for this opportunity and I can't wait to get started," Howson said in a phone interview Thursday.

In Edmonton, he oversaw personnel decisions and contract negotiations, including salary cap issues, a skill that helped the small-market Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

Team president Mike Priest said last week that the Blue Jackets need to spend more time developing young players and to avoid older, high-priced players.

Howson, 47, said he couldn't discuss his plans for the team until a news conference scheduled for Friday when the team will officially introduce him. Specifics of the multiyear deal won't be released, said team spokesman Todd Sharrock.

Howson played a brief stint as a forward with the New York Islanders in 1984-1985, with five goals and three assists in 18 games.

After his playing days ended, Howson earned a law degree from Toronto's York University and ran Edmonton's top farm club from 1994-2000. He was hired by the Oilers in 2000 and the team promoted him to assistant general manager a year later.

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