NHL Notes: Jackets hire Kekalainen as new GM

NHL Notes: Jackets hire Kekalainen as new GM
February 14, 2013, 9:00 am
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Jarmo Kekalainen of Finland became the first European to be named a general manager in the NHL on Wednesday. (AP)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets hurried to make history.

Just more than 24 hours after firing Scott Howson, they announced the hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen of Finland as the first European to be a general manager in the National Hockey League.

Kekalainen, director of amateur scouting with the St. Louis Blues 2002-10, held a news conference Wednesday in his native Finland at the same time the Blue Jackets Blue Jackets held theirs in Ohio.

"One of my dreams since I hung up my skates has been to be a GM of an NHL team sometime. Now that dream has come true," Kekalainen said in Helsinki at the home arena of the Jokerit club, where he's been GM since 2010. "I'm really happy and pleased, even proud, that I've been give this chance."

The 46-year-old, who played sparingly in the NHL, worked closely with Columbus director of hockey operations John Davidson with the Blues. When the Blues hired Doug Armstrong as general manager in 2010 instead of Kekalainen, Kekalainen returned to Finland to take over as GM of Jokerit in Finland's top league (see full story).

Avs' Johnson out indefinitely
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without Erik Johnson indefinitely after the defenseman suffered a head injury in a game against Phoenix.

Johnson was hurt on a hit during an overtime loss to the Coyotes on Monday.

The Avs already are missing captain Gabriel Landeskog (head) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (ankle), along with forward Steve Downie, who's out for the season with a torn ACL.

But they're expecting to have forward John Mitchell (flu) and defenseman Matt Hunwick (torso) back when they play at Minnesota on Thursday. Although Matt Duchene skipped practice on Wednesday, coach Joe Sacco said he will be in the lineup.

Given the rash of injuries, Colorado could certainly use the offensive flair of Ryan O'Reilly, who is holding out due to a contract dispute (see full story).

Wild hire Brunette as adviser
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Former Minnesota Wild player Andrew Brunette rejoined the team Wednesday as hockey operations adviser.

Brunette will help general manager Chuck Fletcher with scouting, free-agent signings and evaluating and developing prospects.

In his 16-year career, Brunette had 268 goals and 465 assists in 1,110 regular-season games.

The 39-year-old Brunette played six seasons with Minnesota, finishing with 321 points in 489 games. He ranks second in franchise history in goals (119) and power-play goals (55).

Brunette was selected by Washington in the seventh round of the 1993 NHL draft. He also played for Nashville, Atlanta and Colorado before finishing his career last season with Chicago (see full story).

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