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.