The Arizona Coyotes have promoted Steve Sullivan to the post of interim general manager after former general manager John Chayka quit.
“The club is disappointed in (Chayka’s) 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,” said the team in a Sunday statement.
The relationship between Chayka and the Coyotes seemed to break down as of late, with numerous reports shedding light on the situation.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Chayka received another “job opportunity.” This took place at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Coyotes approached about their GM’s availability. They granted permission for him to explore the offer, which was reportedly not for another general manager post.
According to Friedman, Chayka was on his way out but the Coyotes “dug in and resisted.”
With four years to go on the contract, it’s understandable that Arizona would want to hold on to their man. There were overtures to keep him in the fold at least for the remainder of the season, but that obviously didn’t work out given what we know now.
After the reports came out about a breakdown between club and manager, both sides essentially went quiet. Friedman stated that Chayka was “laying low,” while there were rumours that even his office had been effectively cleaned out and nobody was returning any messages.
And now, with the Coyotes set to enter the playoffs under some of the most bizarre circumstances imaginable, they are going to have to do so with a new general manager.
“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,” Chayka said.
Alex Meruelo purchased the Coyotes franchise in July of 2019, with Andrew Barroway still minority owner. Xavier A. Gutierrez was recently hired as president and CEO, replacing Ahron Cohen.
There were reports that Meruelo and Gutierrez were among those meeting with Coyotes forward Taylor Hall at dinner last week, as talks of re-signing him picked up. Chayka, on the other hand, was not present – and there was the suggestion that he wasn’t even aware the meeting had taken place.