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Hockey Operations

Executive Staff
JOHN DAVIDSON, President of Hockey Operations/Alternate Governor
John Davidson

John Davidson was named president of hockey operations and alternate governor of the Columbus Blue Jackets in October 2012 and in his role oversees all hockey operations activities for the club. In his three seasons with the club, Columbus has posted a 109-84-19 record (.559), including back-to-back 40-win campaigns and three consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Blue Jackets went 42-35-5 (89 pts.) in 2014-15, earning the second-most wins and third-most points in club history. That comes a season after the Jackets went 43-32-7 (93 pts.) in 2013-14 to set franchise records for wins and points.

He joined the Blue Jackets after serving as the president of hockey operations of the St. Louis Blues from 2006-12. During his tenure, the Blues averaged 39 wins and 90 points, including a 49-22-11 record, 109 points and a Central Division title in 2011-12.

One of hockey’s most respected figures and the current chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, Davidson has enjoyed a long and distinguished career that spans four decades. Prior to his successful stint with the Blues, he was the longtime analyst for New York Rangers games on Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), as well as various NHL national broadcast partners in the United States and Canada. His outstanding work during a 20-plus year broadcasting career earned him numerous honors.

In 2009, he received the prestigious Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster by The Hockey Hall of Fame and was inducted on Nov. 9, 2009. The NHL and USA Hockey honored Davidson with the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to ice hockey in the United States in March 2004. He also won two New York Emmy Awards for “Outstanding On-Camera Achievement” in 2001 and 1995 and was part of MSG’s Rangers broadcast team that won the CableACE Award for “Outstanding Live Event Coverage” in 1994.

Davidson began his broadcast career with MSG in 1983 and then spent two years on the popular “Hockey Night in Canada” from 1984-86. He rejoined MSG prior to the 1986-87 season, beginning a partnership with Rangers play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen that concluded following the 2005-06 season. During that time, Davidson also served as NBC’s analyst for the NHL All-Star Game from 1990-93 and was lead analyst for the network’s hockey coverage at the 1992 (Albertville, France), 1994 (Lillehammer, Norway), 1998 (Nagano, Japan), 2002 (Salt Lake City) and 2006 (Torino, Italy) Winter Olympic Games. He worked for TBS at the 1990 Goodwill Games, contributed to ABC’s coverage of the NHL in 1994 and served on the number-one broadcast team with Mike Emrick for FOX’s coverage of the NHL regular season, All-Star Games and Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals from 1995-1999.

In addition, his work included several All-Star Games and Stanley Cup Finals for OLN, ESPN and SportsChannel, the 1991 Canada Cup for “Hockey Night in Canada” and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey for FX. He served as ESPN’s studio analyst for the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 2005-06 season marked his final season in the broadcast booth on OLN (now NBC Sports Network) and NBC.

Davidson enjoyed a successful junior career as a goaltender with the Calgary Centennials prior to being selected by the Blues with their first pick, fifth overall, in the 1973 Entry Draft. That year, he became the first goaltender to go directly from junior hockey to the NHL as he appeared in 39 games with St. Louis during the 1973-74 season. After two years with the Blues, he joined the Rangers in June 1975 and went on to play eight seasons in New York. In 1978-79, he went 20-15-4 with a 3.52 goals-against average in 39 games and then went 11-7 with a 2.28 goals-against average in 18 playoff games to lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. He was forced to retire due to injuries during the 1982-83 season.

Davidson was born on Feb. 27, 1953 in Ottawa, Ontario and raised in Calgary, Alberta. He and his wife, Diana, are the parents of two daughters, Lindsay and Ashley.



JARMO KEKALAINEN, General Manager
Jarmo Kekalainen

Jarmo Kekalainen was named the third general manager in Columbus Blue Jackets history on February 13, 2013. Since his arrival, the Blue Jackets have enjoyed their best stretch in club history, posting back-to-back 40-win campaigns and three-straight winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Jackets finished 42-35-5 (89 pts.) in 2014-15, following a franchise record-breaking 2013-14 season in which they set club records for wins and points with a 43-32-7 mark (93 pts.). In 2012-13, Columbus posted the highest-winning percentage in franchise history at .573 with a 24-17-7 mark.

Kekalainen, who served as assistant general manager for bronze medal-winning Team Finland at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, arrived in Columbus after serving as the president and general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League from 2010-13.

Kekalainen was a member of the Ottawa Senators hockey operations department from 1995 to 2002 and served in a variety of roles with the club. He served as Ottawa’s director of player personnel for three years and also oversaw the amateur draft and the club’s scouting efforts in Europe. Among the players selected by Ottawa during this time were Jason Spezza, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, Antoine Vermette and Ray Emery. While working with the Senators, he also served as general manager of IFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League from 1995 to 1999 and led the club to the league championship in 1998.

Prior to his stint with Jokerit, Kekalainen spent eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues from 2002-10. He joined the Blues as director of amateur scouting and was named assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting in 2005. In that role, he was involved in all facets of hockey operations, including professional scouting efforts and overseeing the club’s amateur scouting and draft preparations. During his eight years in St. Louis, the Blues drafted players such as David Backes, Roman Polak, David Perron, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo.

Kekalainen was a member of the Ottawa Senators organization from 1995 to 2002, serving as director of player personnel for three years and also overseeing the amateur draft and the club’s scouting efforts in Europe. While working with the Senators, he also served as general manager of IFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League from 1995 to 1999 and led the club to the league championship in 1998.

As a player, Kekalainen appeared in 55 career NHL games with the Senators and Boston Bruins during a six-year career. A left wing, he scored five goals and added eight assists for 13 points with 28 penalty minutes, including a career-high 1-5-6 and 14 penalty minutes in 28 games with the Senators during the 1993-94 season. He also played in the American Hockey League and his native Finland before wrapping up his playing career with Vasteras IK in the Swedish Elite League in 1994-95.

Before signing with the Bruins, Kekalainen played two seasons at Clarkson University from 1987-89. He was named to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference First All-Star Team after tallying 19-25-44 and 47 penalty minutes in 31 games during the 1988-89 season. He also represented Finland at the 1986 World Junior Championships and the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament. 

Kekalainen was born on July 3, 1966 in Tampere, Finland. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Clarkson University and a master’s in business marketing from the University of Tampere.  

He and his wife, Tiina, are the parents of daughters, Emilia and Sofia. 


BILL ZITO, Assistant General Manager
Bill Zito was named assistant general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Aug. 12, 2013 and brings nearly three decades of experience encompassing a variety of aspects of the game of hockey to the organization. Since joining the Blue Jackets, he has been an integral part of the club’s management team in the areas of contract negotiations, player evaluation, salary cap management and budgeting. He also is the general manager of the Lake Erie Monsters’, Columbus’ American Hockey League affiliate, and was a member of the USA Hockey National Team advisory board at the 2015 IIHF World Hockey Championships at which Team USA won the Bronze Medal.

Zito joined the Blue Jackets after having spent the past two decades building Acme World Sports into one of the top hockey agencies in the world by uncovering late-round or undrafted, lesser-known players as well as the top picks. As the agency’s founder and president, he represented players such as Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas, Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask, Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi and All-Stars Kimmo Timonen and Brian Rafalski.

He is a graduate of Yale University, where he played varsity hockey from 1984-87. He then attended law school at the University of Wisconsin and during that time served as an assistant coach for the Badgers hockey team and was a radio color commentator for Badger hockey. Upon earning his law degree, he went on to practice at major firms in New York and Chicago before founding Acme World Sports, LLC in 1995.

Zito was born on September 16, 1964 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Julie, are the parents of twin daughters, Gigi and Frankie, and son, Billy.
 
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