Hometown Advantage: Jarmo Kekäläinen’s Finnish Coach Appointment

Jarmo Kekäläinen, the club leader of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has hired Niklas Bäckström as the team’s new goaltending coach. Bäckström is a former top goalkeeper from Finland. Kekäläinen himself is a former NHL player who appeared in 55 career NHL games as a left wing with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins during a six-year playing career. He was also the president and general manager of Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League before joining the Blue Jackets in 2013.

Niklas Bäckström joined the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019 as a European based goaltending development coach. On June 13, 2023, the Columbus Blue Jackets named Niklas Bäckström the club’s goaltending coach. Bäckström is a former professional ice hockey goaltender who played ten seasons for the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League (NHL) . He won both the William M. Jennings Trophy and Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award during his playing career. Bäckström also won both Urpo Ylönen trophy and Jari Kurri trophy twice. He is a Swedish-speaking Finn, but also speaks Finnish.

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