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New GM will be Davidson's first big hire in Columbus

by John Kreiser

John Davidson wasted little time making his mark on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Four months after being hired as the team's president of hockey operations, Davidson made a major move Tuesday night by firing general manager Scott Howson. No successor was announced, but Davidson told's Pierre LeBrun he has no plans to take the job himself.

Davidson will have a number of candidates to choose from as he looks for Howson's replacement. Here’s four of the possibilities (listed in alphabetical order):

John Ferguson Jr.: The former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager hasn't run an NHL front office since being let go in early 2008. He's serving as a scout for the San Jose Sharks, but interviewed for a position with Columbus last summer.

Ron Hextall: The former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender is in his seventh season as assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings and serves as GM of their AHL farm team in Manchester, N.H. He helped assemble the team that brought the Kings their first Stanley Cup last season. Prior to joining L.A., Hextall served as a professional scout and director of professional player personnel for the Flyers.

Jarmo Kekalainen: Davidson knows Kekalainen well from his time with the St. Louis Blues, for whom the 46-year-old was an assistant GM and director of scouting from 2002-10. He now runs Jokerit, one of the top teams in Finland's SM-liiga, but TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Kekalainen has an out clause if he wants to leave for the NHL. If he got the job, he would be the first European to serve as general manager of an NHL team.

Dave Taylor: The former Los Angeles star spent nine seasons as King general manager, then worked for three seasons as the Dallas Stars' director of player personnel before joining the Blues in 2010, giving him a connection to Davidson. Taylor was named vice president of hockey operations for the Blues last summer after two years as their director of player personnel.

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