Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Uses NHL Draft Combine Fitness Testing

By Stephanie Lewark
Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

The NHL draft combine fitness test began yesterday and wraps up today.  According to Columbus Blue Jackets general manager,  Jarmo Kekalainen, the fitness testing is a great way to weed out the good from the average picks and whether or not they have what it takes to develop into a franchise-changing player.

Kekalainen was hired as the Jackets general manager this past February and has already made a bold move in trading with the New York Rangers this past trade deadline to acquire Marian Gaborik.  With having three picks in the first round of this year’s NHL Entry Draft, it appears they have the right man for the job in order to rebuild the team into a Stanley Cup contender eventually.  He is looking to transform the team into one that plays fast, quick and hard especially with the first-round draft picks.

The work starts at the fitness testing where he can see what a player is made of and whether or not he takes what he is doing serious, which mostly likely will translate onto the ice.  He recently told Craig Custance of

“You can see a lot of things, you can see how the body is built, you can see the structure, you can see some of the weaknesses they might have, structural weaknesses,” Kekalainen said when we sat down for a chat at the Toronto Airport Westin, where NHL teams conducted their pre-draft player interviews. “The one thing I want to look at is the effort. Some guys want to take it very seriously and they put a big effort into it. Usually those are the same guys who put a big effort on the ice.”

Stephanie Lewark is a Pittsburgh Penguins / NHL Senior Writer for Follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her Facebook page, or add her to your Google+ circle.

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