Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell faces reporters during a...

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell faces reporters during a media availability Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Boston. Waddell has stepped down as president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, ending a run that had him build a roster that has reached the NHL playoffs for six straight years. The team announced Waddell's decision in a news release Friday, May 24, 2024, saying that assistant general manager Eric Tulsky would work as interim GM until the end of a search for a permanent successor. Credit: AP/Steven Senne

The Columbus Blue Jackets named Don Waddell as their general manager and president of hockey operations on Tuesday, bringing in an experienced NHL executive to try to help turn around the franchise.

Waddell joins the club days after stepping down as GM of the Carolina Hurricanes with his contract set to expire. His move to Columbus also coincides with John Davidson shifting into an advisory role after running the front office for 10 of the past 12 years.

"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,” team President Mike Priest said. “Don has every attribute we were looking for when this process began, and we are thrilled to have him lead our hockey operations efforts.”

The Hurricanes reached the playoffs and won at least one series in each of Waddell's six seasons in charge. The Blue Jackets have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons and have made three different coaching hires during that time.

“To our fans, we remain committed to providing all the necessary resources to build a team and organization that competes for the Stanley Cup,” majority owner 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, 65, has a Stanley Cup ring from 1998 when he was assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings. He became the first GM of the expansion Atlanta Thrashers and spent more than a decade in that job before scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins, then going to Carolina as president.

“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 toward a common goal and achieve success."

Waddell succeeds Jarmo Kekalainen in the full-time role after Davidson made a midseason change and took over GM duties on an interim basis. Waddell said the organization “has everything you need to have success at the highest level.”

The Blue Jackets in 23 seasons of existence have made the playoffs just six times and never gotten past the second round. Within the past year, Brad Larsen was fired as coach after two seasons, Mike Babcock was hired and then forced to resign on the eve of training camp after players voiced privacy concerns about his methods and then replaced by Pascal Vincent, who oversaw a team that lost 55 of its 82 games.


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