The last few days in Arizona have mired in confusion, or controversy as some would say, as reports of General Manager John Chayka has terminated his contract and Steve Sullivan has taken over as interim GM.
As seen as reported by Pierre LeBrun (above), Chayka had three years left on his contract with the Coyotes and that he terminated his contract about 48 hours ago. The breakdown between Chayka and the Coyotes is an interesting one as some say it’s because of a potential opportunity that the Coyotes gave Chayka permission to explore then resisted, and others claim it’s about the direction of the team.
Per Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet, it’s about the opportunity, and the Coyotes reluctance to let Chayka go once they realized they were going to lose him. The position, per Friedman’s source, was not going to be another GM position for another NHL team, so it was not going to be a lateral move.
From what I understand, when it became apparent Chayka could leave, the Coyotes dug in and resisted. He has four years remaining on his contract, and, at least until this occurred, owner Alex Meruelo was a huge supporter of his GM. The two sides discussed the possibility of a “transition period” where the GM would stay through the remainder of Arizona’s season, but talks fell apart.
– Elliotte Friedman
Chayka was hired by the Coyotes as GM on May 5th, 2016 at the age of 26 years old becoming the youngest GM in NHL history. However, in his first three seasons with the Coyotes he would fail to help the team make the playoffs, that is until this season’s playoffs with the 24 team format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also under Chayka’s watch there have been allegations that the Coyotes violated NHL Draft rules by having CHL prospects illegally do fitness testing during the interview period of the draft eligible players. The NHL is currently running an investigation on the matter.
This is a continuing situation, and TXHT will continue to monitor the matter.
** UPDATE **
The Arizona Coyotes have made the following statement:
GLENDALE, ARIZONA — The Arizona Coyotes issued the following statement today regarding John Chayka.
“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 fans in the NHL.
“The Club is moving forward and has named Steve Sullivan as Interim General Manager. He has the full support of the entire 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.”
The Coyotes Official Statement can be found here.
John Chayka released the following statement via Craig Morgan.
TSN – GM Chayka terminates his contract with Coyotes – https://www.tsn.ca/gm-chayka-terminates-his-contract-with-the-arizona-coyotes-1.1500080
SportsNet – Sources: Coyotes’ relationship with GM Chayka fell apart over new opportunity – https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/sources-coyotes-relationship-gm-chayka-fell-apart-new-opportunity/