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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Whether it was the desire for a spacious two car garage in Connecticut, or the sandy beaches of south Florida, or the bright lights of Chicago, or the desire to play anywhere other than Columbus (and, later for Dubois, Winnipeg) ... Jarmo's card tower collapsed beginning in the summer of 2019.


Honestly, I thought he deserved a chance to build this roster from the ground up. A full rebuild, as compared to the stunted build he had to work with when he started. He did a pretty good job.

But in hockey, rebuilds are hard. When done correctly, they take several years. The truth here is, this team is still probably at least 2-3 years away from reaching back towards a level of playoff competition.

That would probably be fine if it weren't for a bizarre sequence of moves last summer. After finishing 31st in the NHL standings, Kekalainen boldly predicted that his team was going to contend for a playoff spot this season.

Maybe he was being hopeful. Maybe he was trying to sell us on that hope. He tailored the roster to work under a 700 game winning NHL head coach, acquiring two top-four defensemen. Maybe he's right, and it would have worked. Or, maybe he was dead wrong.

But, that Babcock hiring - combined with his promise of a competitive group - ultimately spelled his demise. The expectations weren't met. And, worse, this team really hasn't taken any major steps forward.

The frustration from the fans is to be expected. But we've also seen frustration from the young players. For a franchise that has struggled to develop and retain talent, that was a major alarm bell. There was disfunction at some level in the management, and making a change with the General Manager was the obvious move.

We've seen the history, and talked a little bit about the causes of Jarmo's dismissal. Now, the question: What is his legacy with the Columbus Blue Jackets?