As we saw in Part 1 with John Davidson, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a lot of work to do this offseason and beyond. Even with a long list of items on their to-do list, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen continues to believe in the direction they are going.
Related: Blue Jackets’ John Davidson Reflects on Frustrating Season
While the belief on the team was that this season could be tough, no one thought they’d be in 32nd place with just 14 games left. While it’s understandable for everyone involved with the Blue Jackets to be frustrated, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any positives to work with and build from.
In Part 2 of our Blue Jackets’ Long Read this week, Kekalainen stopped by to answer questions on a wide variety of topics. Among them, why do they remain bullish on the future? What is he looking for at the end of this season from his team? He also touches on some more individual situations and we even get into some of his thoughts on the hot topics around the recently completed GM meetings in Florida. He ends with his message to the fans.
MS: Your team is down to its final 14 games of the season. What are some of the biggest things that you’re watching for, or maybe even more specifically, what are some of the biggest unanswered questions that you have? What specifically are you looking for?
Kekalainen: “We’re looking for progress. We know we have some work to do but we got many positive and bright spots in our young roster too. And they’re going to be a big part of our future. So that’s what we expect. We expect work ethic and we expect professional pride every day and progress and knowing that we got work ahead of us. The future will be good for this team once we get there.”
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MS: You never want to call a season like this a silver lining season, but it has allowed you to see a bunch of your players in different roles, maybe a little bit higher in the lineup than you thought. Do you feel you know your team a little bit better as a result since you’ve been able to put them in different positions?
Kekalainen: “I don’t know about (knowing) the team better. If we had all our veteran guys who missed pretty much the whole season, I think probably our team as a whole, the results and wins and losses would be better. I’m certain of that. But I think that the progress with the young guys probably has been accelerated a bit. As you said, they’ve gotten opportunities that they probably…
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