The three most powerful men at the front office of the Columbus Blue Jackets were extended for two more years, ensuring they would be back once their current contract is up.
Kekalainen, Davidson, Zito Sign Two-Year Extensions
General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen, assistant general manager Bill Zito and president of hockey operations John Davidson were all in the final years of the current contract, but the extension ties them to the team through the 2018-19 season.
Contracts of Davidson, Kekalainen and Zito were to run through this season. With extension, they're through 2018-19.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 6, 2016
While the team has managed to have their best four-year run in franchise history, going 143-124-27 under the regime of Davidson, the Blue Jackets have qualified for the playoffs just once, a first-round exit at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The year prior, they missed out by a single point.
Last year, injuries decimated the team’s momentum altogether, ending Columbus up in 8th in the Metropolitan Division and 27th overall. This would make the second year in a row the team would fail to reach the post-season.
In a statement posted by The Columbus Dispatch, Davidson said, “We’re trying to set up a base here that’s going to be a base for a long time, so that it’s a good team for a long time. The draft and development side is in very good shape.”
Taking a look at the base of the Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s not hard to justify that belief. In just a couple of years, management has drafted well and traded great to solidify depth and skill level at each position and role. From big name forwards such as Oliver Bjorkstrand, who stepped into the league as a 20-year-old prospect and scored four goals and eight points in 12 games, to newly drafted Pierre-Luc Dubois, 20-year-old Sonny Milano and center Nick Moutrey. They’ve got defense in spades with names like Scott Harrington, Dillon Heatherington, Zachary Werenski and Gabriel Carlsson, and goaltenders Oscar Dansk, Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg. Knee-deep in talent, from top to bottom.
“I want this city to be proud of this team. We’re still trending in the right direction.”
John Davidson joined the Blue Jackets in October of 2012 and immediately hired Jarmo Kekalainen after just four months on the job, replacing Scott Howden. Kekalainen, known as a respected scout, quickly learned there was more to the job than drafting 18-year-olds. Bill Zito joined the team in 2014, after spending years as a player agent and has been responsible for most of the team’s contract negotiations.