Kekalainen hire sends "a clear message"

Wednesday, 02.13.2013 / 3:00 PM
By Staci Pawlak - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The Blue Jackets took the ice today for an energetic practice merely an hour after President of Hockey Operations John Davidson announced that Jarmo Kekalainen would replace Scott Howson as general manager.

Davidson spoke to the team briefly before their practice at Nationwide Arena this morning to discuss the change and the expectations moving forward.

“He told us what the expectations are, but that’s nothing earth-shattering… to come and give it your best every day,” Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said. “We know the organization is serious about doing whatever they can to try to help us win here.”

For many of the players, the change is bittersweet since contract moves made by Howson and his staff are the reason for being here in Columbus.

“Unfortunately, it’s a part of this business, but it’s never an easy decision to make,” Prospal said. “Here, this is a hard business, and [it’s] not where they’re from, [it’s] what they do, and how hard they work.”

Even still, Davidson spoke of a “changing culture,” and the phrase has been somewhat of a buzzword this season for the Blue Jackets. Many of the players and coaches see the move as another step in the process – and an opportunity to grow into the franchise everyone wants them to be.

“It’s a pretty clear message,” said head coach Todd Richards. “I’ve heard good things about Jarmo, I’m excited, and I’m looking forward to him getting here, sitting down, and spending some time [with him].”

RJ Umberger said bringing Kekalainen on board sends a message similar to the one they got when Davidson was hired in October: there is a standard in place and a commitment to excellence, and a new identity of the team will be forged one brick at a time.

“There’s been a message since day one that he has been here, so it’s another part of the process that he’s trying to change here,” Umberger said.

For the players, their focus remains on what happens on the ice, and they’re looking forward to building off the consistent efforts they’ve put together over the past couple of games, especially against San Jose.

“It’s up to us as players to play like we did over the weekend. That’s the kind of identity we’d like to have,” Umberger said.

“It gives me confidence, and hopefully, it gives the rest of the guys confidence, that maybe we’ve turned the corner,” said Richards. “Maybe there’s an identity that we’re starting to create, how we need to play and have success.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 1 1 1 0 2
D. MacKenzie 1 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 1 1 0 1 1
B. Dubinsky 1 0 1 1 1
B. Jenner 1 0 1 -1 1
F. Tyutin 1 0 0 -1 0
J. Wisniewski 1 0 0 0 0
B. Comeau 1 0 0 -1 0
N. Nikitin 1 0 0 0 0
J. Skille 1 0 0 -1 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 0 1 0 .875 4.07
 
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