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Don Wadell named new CBJ GM

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Waddell named Blue Jackets president, GM; left same position with Hurricanes

Replaces Kekalainen, who was fired Feb. 15; led Carolina to 6 straight playoff appearances

© Getty Images


Don Waddell was hired as president of hockey operations and general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday after stepping down from the same position with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.


Waddell, 65, succeeds Jarmo Kekalainen, who was fired Feb. 15; John Davidson, who had been Columbus' president of hockey operations for 10 of the past 12 years, will be a senior adviser and alternate governor.


“I couldn’t be more excited to join the Columbus Blue Jackets as this is an organization that has everything you need to have success at the highest level,” Waddell said. “It’s a wonderful city with passionate fans, strong ownership, first-class facilities, and a desire to be the best."


Waddell, who agreed to a multiyear contract with the Blue Jackets, had been with the Hurricanes in an executive role since 2014 and had been Carolina president and GM since 2018.


The Hurricanes qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his six seasons as GM after not qualifying the previous nine. Carolina won at least one playoff series each of the past six seasons, highlighted by two trips to the Eastern Conference Final, in 2019 and 2023.


He was a finalist for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award in 2019, which was won by Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney.


“I’ve known Don for many years, and he is one of the great gentlemen in our business,” Davidson said. “He is a very smart, dedicated professional who has shown a great ability to bring people together to work towards a common goal and achieve success.


I believe this is a great day for our organization and our fans.”

With the Blue Jackets, Waddell will be tasked with turning around a team that has missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, and has advanced to the second round of the postseason once since joining the NHL as an expansion franchise in 2000.


Columbus (27-43-12) finished last in the Metropolitan Division this season and has finished last in the Eastern Conference each of the past two seasons. The Blue Jackets have finished no higher than sixth in their division since the 2019-20 season.


Under first-year coach Pascal Vincent, Columbus finished 31st in goals-against per game (3.63), tied for 24th in goals per game (2.85), 31st on the power play (15.1 percent) and tied for 25th on the penalty kill (76.3 percent).


The Blue Jackets have one pending unrestricted free agent, forward Brendan Gaunce, who cleared waivers and was assigned to Cleveland of the American Hockey League on Monday.


They also have six pending restricted free agents: forwards Yegor Chinakhov, Kirill Marchenko, Alexander Nylander, Cole Sillinger and Alexandre Texier, and defenseman Jake Bean.


Several of Columbus' key players are signed for at least two more seasons, including forwards Johnny Gaudreau (five seasons), Boone Jenner (two) and Patrik Laine (two), defensemen Zach Werenski (four) and Damon Severson (seven), and goalie Elvis Merzlikins (three).


The Blue Jackets currently have six selections in the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft, including the No. 4 overall pick.

Edited by Brewin Flames
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  • Brewin Flames changed the title to Don Wadell named new CBJ GM

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