Jarmo Kekalainen's Columbus Blue Jacket Legacy Stretches Beyond just on-ice Results

The Columbus Blue Jackets ended an era on Thursday by firing the third longest tenured GM in the NHL, Jarmo Kekalainen. Whether you loved him or hated him, there's no denying that he left his mark on hockey in Central Ohio.

Jul 1, 2023; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen speaks after
Jul 1, 2023; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen speaks after / The Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK
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The current version of the Columbus Blue Jackets has let us down. But, I am quick to point out that the reason they have disappointed us this year, is because there is a lot to work with here.

Led by some quality veterans - including elite winger Johnny Gaudreau, the Jackets are a team that should be a lot better than their position in the standings might indicate.

Gaudreau is joined by rugged captain Boone Jenner, enigmatic (but highly skilled) winger Patrik Laine, top defenseman Zach Werenski, and starting goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. As the focal points of this version of the team, they're just the main pieces. They have some really solid depth throughout the lineup also.

What makes this position attractive to incoming candidates however, is the ridiculous crop of young players this team has stockpiled. Jarmo and his scouting staff have amassed an embarrassment of riches at the NHL Draft over this rebuild.

From high first rounders Adam Fantilli, Kent Johnson, David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, and Cole Sillinger; to middle round gems like Jordan Dumais, Gavin Brindley, Stanislav Svozil and so many others - I do believe this team is actually heading in a positive direction as far as the future is concerned. It just takes time. Maybe more time than anyone wanted to admit.

They were supposed to be (slightly) better this year. But, this was all cut short by this front office bungling the head coaching hire last summer. Had they not hired - and subsequently fired - Mike Babcock, things could be a lot different. The right coaching hire in the summer, could have sent this team in a new direction.

The Babcock blunder cost them the locker room this season. I have zero doubt that it was a fractured group amidst that whole fallout. Which has led to a tumultuous season and, ultimately, Jarmo's dismissal.

But bear with me: it wasn't all bad here. Not for his entire tenure...