Blue Jackets name Kekalainen GM

The Columbus Blue Jackets moved quickly to replace fired general manager Scott Howson, naming Jarmo Kekalainen to the post on Wednesday.

Howson, who was in his sixth season as Jackets GM, was fired Tuesday.

Kekalainen, a native of Finland who worked with Blue Jackets president John Davidson at St. Louis, is the first European general manager in NHL history.

"Hockey is truly a global game and there are very few people whose knowledge of the game in North America and abroad surpasses that of Jarmo Kekalainen," said Davidson in a statement Wednesday. "He is intelligent, hard-working and a tremendous evaluator of talent. He is a terrific addition to the Blue Jackets family and will play an important role in our efforts to move our organization forward in the coming years."

Kekalainen spent eight seasons (2002-10) with the Blues as assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting. He had been serving as general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League since 2010.

"I am very grateful to the Blue Jackets organization for this opportunity and am looking forward to getting started," said Kekalainen. "We have a great challenge before us, but I am confident through hard work, organization and commitment that we will achieve our goal of building a Stanley Cup contending team."

The Blue Jackets enter Wednesday's action with a record of 4-7-2, tied for 12th in the Western Conference with just 10 points.

Columbus was 173-190-59 with Howson at the helm and made its lone playoff appearance in the spring of 2009. The Jackets were the worst team in the NHL last season with just 65 points.

The 46-year-old Kekalainen was born in Finland, but played two seasons of college hockey at Clarkson University and appeared in 55 NHL games with Ottawa and Boston during a six-year career.

After his playing days ended in the Swedish Elite League in 1994-95, Kekalainen was a member of the Senators' hockey operations department from 1995-2002.