John Chayka has quit as the general manager and president of hockey operations of the Arizona Coyotes, the team would announce Sunday. Steve Sullivan has also been named the interim general manager for the time being, though he could receive a long look in the role, per Elliotte Friedman.
The timing of this decision is an interesting one given the timing. With the Coyotes set to play in the play-in tournament in a best-of-five matchup against the Nashville Predators.
The Coyotes would have the following to say on the matter:
John Chayka has quit as the General Manager and President of Hockey Operations of the Arizona Coyotes.
The Club is disappointed in his actions and his timing as the Coyotes prepare to enter the NHL’s hub city of Edmonton, where the team will begin post-season play for the first time since 2012. Chayka has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest in the NHL.
The Club is moving forward and has named Steve Sullivan as Interim General Manager. He has the full support of the organization, including team ownership, executive leadership, players and coaches.
The Club will have no further comment on the matter, as the Club remains focused on the opportunity to pursue a Stanley Cup.
Chayka himself would also release a statement on the matter:
The past four years have been the most enjoyable of my life. In Arizona, I became a husband and a father, while working as hard as possible to make the Coyotes a Stanley Cup contender. I love our players, coaches, staff and fans and I very much wish I could be with the team in Edmonton. Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility.
That’s all I intend to say on this matter for now. A fuller, more detailed explanation may be necessary in the near future. Until then, I wish the Coyotes good luck in Edmonton, and thank every member of Our Pack for the support shown to Kathryn, out daughter and myself over the years. Also, I want to congratulate Steve Sullivan as he steps into a new role. We’ve worked side-by-side for years. He is a great person and a terrific hockey mind.”
Chayka’s Tenure in Arizona was Interesting
Chayka was hired by the Coyotes to take over as their general manager in May of 2016 at the age of 26 years old. That made him the youngest general manager in not only NHL history, but in the history of North American major sports. He was also promoted to the president of hockey operations in July of 2017.
Though Chayka has used analytics to drive his decisions and many of the moves made under him have been universally accepted as good ones for the betterment of the franchise, the team had unfortunately missed the playoffs in Chayka’s three previous seasons at the helm.
If it weren’t for the revised playoff system put in place this season, it’s also unlikely that the Coyotes would have made the playoffs once again this season.
There have also been reports that Chayka was excluded from negotiations with pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall. At a dinner meeting earlier in July, Chayka was not present as he was reportedly not even aware of the meeting until at least one day later, Kent Somers reports.
Keeping the team’s general manager and president of hockey operations out of the loop on negotiations for one of the very best players in the NHL and the best player on the team seems like a recipe for disaster. It didn’t take long for things to boil over either as Chayka has now removed himself from the situation and the Coyotes are moving forward without him.
Something else of note in regards to the Coyotes is the fact that the Coyotes are currently being investigated for alleged recruiting violations, specifically for the illegal fitness-testing for draft-eligible CHL prospects.