Blue Jackets hire Don Waddell to lead turnaround

By Thomson Reuters May 28, 2024 | 3:51 PM

The Columbus Blue Jackets agreed to a multi-year deal Tuesday with Don Waddell to become the club’s president of hockey operations, general manager and alternate governor.

Waddell, 65, resigned as president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday after 10 seasons with the organization.

Waddell replaces GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who was fired in February. The Blue Jackets also announced that John Davidson, their president of hockey operations for 10 of the past 12 years, has agreed to serve as 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 takes over a Columbus franchise that finished in last place in the Metropolitan Division for the second straight season and missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth straight season in 2023-24.

Only three teams — the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks — finished with worse records than the Blue Jackets (27-43-12, 66 points) this season.

The Blue Jackets have not won a playoff series since the 2018-19 campaign.

“To our fans, we remain committed to providing all the necessary resources to build a team and organization that competes for the Stanley Cup,” Blue Jackets majority owner and governor John P. McConnell said. “After spending time getting to know Don, I believe his experience and leadership will take us down the path to success.”

Waddell joined the Hurricanes as president in 2014 and became the general manager in 2018. He was assistant general manager with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 when they won the Stanley Cup and GM of the Atlanta Thrashers from 1998-2010 before being promoted to team president.

The Hurricanes won three straight division titles (2021-23) and finished in second place in the Metropolitan Division this season after posting a 52-23-7 record. They were eliminated in six games by the New York Rangers in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“Don Waddell is one of the most experienced and respected executives in our sport with over four decades of experience as a player, scout, head coach, general manager and team president,” Blue Jackets president and alternate governor Mike Priest said.

“Most recently, he has built the Carolina Hurricanes into one of the winningest clubs in the National Hockey League. Don has every attribute we were looking for when this process began, and we are thrilled to have him lead our hockey operations efforts.”

–Field Level Media