Jarmo Kekalainen

Blue Jackets select Kekalainen as new GM

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A day after firing Scott Howson, the Columbus Blue Jackets have selected Jarmo Kekalainen as their new general manager.

Kekalainen’s most recent job was as the general manager for Jokerit of the Finnish league, but he also has extensive experience in the NHL. He was the Ottawa Senators’ player personnel director in the late 90s and early 21st century. During his tenure, the Senators drafted Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, and Jason Spezza.

He was later the director of amateur scouting in St. Louis when the Blues were drafting many vital pieces of their franchise, including Alex Pietrangelo and David Backes. During his tenure with St. Louis, Kekalainen worked with the Columbus Blue Jackets current president of hockey operations, John Davidson.

“Jarmo is a person with a world of experience,” Davidson said in Wednesday’s press conference. “He’s very intelligent about the world of hockey. He’s very excited.”

Kekalainen will take over a team with some great prospects, but a history of disappointment. The Blue Jackets are playing in their 12th NHL season and they have never won a playoff game. They don’t appear close to changing that either after trading the former face of their franchise, Rick Nash, over the summer.

That being said, the Blue Jackets have already accumulated three first-round picks for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, so Kekalainen will have an opportunity to breathe new life into the team’s rebuilding efforts.

“The Blue Jackets will be built through drafting and player development,” Davidson said. “It’s all part and parcel of how it’ll work going forward.”

He’s also the first European general manager, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie noted.

Related:

Blue Jackets fire GM Scott Howson

Report: Kekalainen likely to be named new Columbus GM

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.