John Davidson, the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, confirmed this morning that Jarmo Kekalainen has been hired as the club's next general manager. Kekalainen replaces Scott Howson, who was fired early yesterday after six-plus seasons. It's a historic hiring, one that will resonate across the world of hockey: Kekalainen, from Finland, is the first European to ascend to the role of GM in the NHL. Kekalainen was director of amateur scouting for the St. Louis Blues from 2002 to 2010, where he met and worked closely with Davidson. Kekalainen is responsible for drafting many of the players who now power the Blues -- David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, etc. In 2010, when the Blues passed over Kekalainen to hire Doug Armstrong, Kekalainen left to become GM of Jokerit in Finland's top league. He signed a five-year contract, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, but the contract has an NHL "out" clause. Prior to his time in St. Lous, Kekalainen spent seven season with the Ottawa Senators, five of them as direction of player personnel. He is 46 years old and an avid runner. According to Juha Hiitela, a U.S.-based NHL reporter for Ilta-Sanomat & Veikkaaja, Kekalainen once finished the Boston Marathon in 2:58:54. Kekalainen, a left winger, played two years at Clarkson University in the late 1980s, then embarked upon a seven-year career spent mostly outside the NHL. He played in 27 games with Boston between 1989-90 and 1990-91, and played in 28 games with Ottawa in 1993-94, before finishing his career in Europe. In 55 career NHL games, he had five goals, eight assists and 24 penalty minutes.