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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It was time to move on from Jarmo Kekalainen. But, we can do that while still appreciating what he did for this team and the city of Columbus.

The Blue Jackets, in their history, have made six NHL playoff appearances. Five of those happened under Kekalainen - including every single playoff game win.

He was a serious face as GM of this team. This franchise went from disorganized laughing stock, to competitive playoff contender under his tutelage. Columbus Blue Jacket hockey went from overlooked, to a destination desirable enough for a free agent like Johnny Gaudreau.

None of that would have been possible without quality leadership. Jarmo earns credit for that.

Yes, he spoke matter-of-factly all the time. Yes, he was probably harder than he needed to be when it came to doling out contract money for young players (though, some might say that this is why their cap situation is favorable). Heck, let's be honest, he wasn't very good at retaining players on the whole.

But, we cannot overlook the fact that he brought an air of respectability to this team that was never here before.

His off-ice contributions are immeasurable. Simply by icing a scrappy, competitive, blue collar team, he gave the city of Columbus a look at what its hockey future is capable of.

This is what we should remember him for. Jarmo Kekalainen walked so his successor can run. I have no doubt that he left this team in a much better position for success than it was in when he took it over 11 years ago.

We owe him a major debt of gratitude.