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New Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Don Waddell hopes to turn team around

FILE - Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell faces reporters during a media availability Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Boston.
Steven Senne
/
AP
FILE - Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell faces reporters during a media availability Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Boston.

New Columbus Blue Jackets general manager and head of hockey operations Don Waddell said he has a roadmap for his new job and hopes to find success with his new team.

Waddell spoke to reporters Wednesday in his first introductory press conference. Waddell was chosen as the Blue Jackets new GM on Tuesday after the team fired Jarmo Kekäläinen during last season.

Waddell said while he was GM with the Carolina Hurricanes, he got some breaks which helped the team find success. Waddell said the Jackets have had a rough few years. He said that includes an unbelievable amount of injuries in recent seasons.

Waddell said the Jackets need luck at their side to avoid those pitfalls, but he has a roadmap on how to begin his work.

"All I can say is with our team here that we got going on and that we're continuing to build ourselves, we will be a better team. Ask me that same question in three months and I'll tell you how much better we will be," Waddell said.

The Blue Jackets had 27 wins, 43 loses and 12 overtime losses last year. Over their 23 year history, they have made the playoffs just six times and have never advanced past the second round.

"There's a lot of injuries that happened this year. We got to get some other players to take that next step and continue to develop... I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't think we had a chance, that's for sure," Waddell said.

He said the team has a lot of good pieces and it won't take a long time to fix the team's issues.

Waddell said his "roadmap" includes introducing himself to staff and team members he doesn't know on the Blue Jackets and turning his focus to the draft and free agency.

Waddell also has to decide if head coach Pascal Vincent, who just completed his first year on the job, gets a new contract. Waddell said he has already met with Vincent.

Waddell said he is also excited to experience an outdoor hockey game again when the Blue Jackets play the Detroit Red Wings at Ohio Stadium on March 1.

"Besides winning the Stanley Cup, it's probably the best experience I have ever had in the National Hockey League," Waddell said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.