A glimpse into the new Blue Jackets GM

Updated: February 15, 2013, 1:58 PM ET
By Craig Custance

For T.J. Oshie, it was an eye-opener. He'd just graduated high school and was going through the gauntlet of pre-draft talks with NHL teams when he met Jarmo Kekalainen during an interview with the St. Louis Blues.

The new Columbus Blue Jackets general manager was then the Blues' director of amateur scouting, and his intensity stood out among the countless meetings Oshie had that day.

"He actually showed me the proper way to do a squat in the middle of the interview, just telling me he wants me to go all the way down," said Oshie, whom the Blues drafted with the No. 24 overall pick in 2005. "I was like, 'Oh boy, I have some work ahead of me.' "

At least Kekalainen showed interest in Oshie's well-being. Other draft prospects remember meeting Kekalainen, getting absolutely grilled during a series of questions, then leaving the interview never expecting to hear from the Blues again.

Patrik Berglund and David Perron fall into that category.

"It was really tough. You got that feeling that, 'OK, I don't think I'll play for St. Louis,' when you walked out of that room," Berglund said. "He was just really harsh. He didn't put on a smile or anything. For an 18-year-old kid, 17-year-old kid, it was kind of, at the time, overwhelming. You didn't really know how to act toward him. He was really hard and obviously that was his job to find out who was good and who wasn't."