Finland's Jarmo Kekalainen will be the NHL's first European… (Kimmo Mantyla / Associated…)
The Columbus Blue Jackets carved out a slice of NHL history Wednesday, naming Jarmo Kekalainen their new general manager. The 46-year-old Finn is the first European to be a GM in the NHL.
Kekalainen didn’t grow up wanting to make trades or find ways to manage the salary cup. But he was realistic enough to know what would secure his future in hockey.
“I think when I realized I wasn’t good enough to pursue the playing career,” he said of his 55-game NHL playing career. ““Second-best choice would be to use my brains.”
A proud and excited Kekalainen was on a conference call Wednesday morning. Visa issues will prevent him from joining the Blue Jackets in time for their next game, on Friday against the Kings in Los Angeles.
Since 2010, he had been the GM of the Finnish club Jokerit. That is the same organization responsible for the early development of the Ducks' Teemu Selanne, who started his professional career there.
"That is what America is all about: immigrants and people coming into the country and looking for the great opportunity the country has to offer,” he said, adding: "I’m going to try to let my work speak for me.”
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