He’s in charge of charting the Blue Jackets new direction, but on Tuesday, he got lost.
Recently hired general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen started out his press conference by apologizing for being four minutes late, explaining he had taken a wrong turn somewhere in the bowels of Nationwide Arena.
Kekäläinen, you see, hasn’t had much time to learn the landscape in Columbus. Although he was hired about two weeks ago, he first dealt with work visa issues, and then joined the team on the back half of a six-game road trip.
While he may still need a map to get around the home barn, however, the first ever European NHL GM says he already knows his way around the league.
“I have a pretty good idea of most of the guys,” he told reporters. “I used to watch 300 games a year as a scout. I’ve seen a lot of hockey games and a lot of players over the years, so now it’s just about updating that book.”
He made other valuable connections during his time with the Senators and then the Blues, before heading overseas to mold Jokerit’s roster in his native Finland.
He pointed out that he didn’t need to introduce himself to any of his fellow general managers. At the same time, he did believe it was important to get reacquainted.
“I’ve talked to all the GMs in the league now. I got through the book yesterday,” Kekäläinen said.
Now if it sounds like Jarmo possess literally volumes of information, you may be disappointed to hear, that is not the case. “No,” he insists laughing. “As few papers as possible…We have a great computer database.”
Cam Atkinson scored a goal last night in the Jackets 5-4 overtime loss to Dallas, but he says he’s still feeling the effects of a high ankle sprain.
“Hopefully as each game and each day goes on, the pain is less severe each time,” he said. “It seems to be going that way, but it’s definitely not going to be 100 percent this whole year.”
Thoughts on Realignment
The Blue Jackets were out on the road when word came that they might soon have a new home in the Eastern Conference. So this was the first chance I had to ask Mark Letestu about it. He knows perhaps better than most how much the CBJ could benefit from such a move, because he once played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who would be the Jackets new division rival under the proposed format.
The proposal has yet to garner the approval of the Players’ Union or Board of Governors.