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On the Chayka rumors and finalists for the Devils' GM job

July 27, 2020, 1:25 PM ET [68 Comments]
Todd Cordell
New Jersey Devils Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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John Chayka’s messy departure as GM of the Arizona Coyotes is a big story in hockey right now. Perhaps *the* biggest – at least outside of anything pertaining to COVID-19.

Word is things went south in Arizona when Chayka started investigating the possibility of taking a massive job – rumored to involve multiple sports teams – outside of the organization.

I speculated the opportunity might have been offered from the ownership group that owns the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers, among others.

While that hasn’t been fully confirmed, Elliotte Friedman stopped just short of doing so in his latest 31 Thoughts column.

From what I understand, it is a major position in an organization that owns teams in more than one sport. The leader in the clubhouse is New Jersey. David Blitzer and Joshua Harris, owners of the Devils, also run the Philadelphia 76ers and Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, and are serious bidders for the New York Mets. My theory is that this is some kind of analytics/sports science/leadership position across some or all of those (potential) platforms. But I’d be lying if I claimed I knew the exact role.

The Devils have poured plenty of resources into their analytics department over the last couple of years. They really want data to be a big part of their decision making (rightfully so). Knowing that, it would hardly be surprising if they targeted Chayka – who helped start the analytics company Stathletes – to oversee an operation across all of their franchises.

Even though things appear unlikely to work out, I think this is a sign of what is to come. The Philadelphia 76ers, especially, are extremely data oriented and teams like New Jersey and Crystal Palace appear likely to join them as such in the very near future.


There were a lot of names being tossed around during New Jersey’s coaching search. Beyond Mike Gillis, we didn’t really hear much publicly regarding potential candidates for the GM job.

Friedman shed some light on the search, listing five external people who were considered before the GM gig ultimately went to Tom Fitzgerald.

9. It was reported that the finalists for the Devils’ GM job — which went to Tom Fitzgerald — were Mike Futa and Laurence Gilman. Heard that among other interviewees were Mark Hunter, Colorado’s Chris MacFarland and Ed Olczyk.

Quite honestly, that is a pretty solid list and it’s encouraging to know the organization was looking in the right direction; particularly with the three finalists.

Futa is highly regarded for his work with the Los Angeles Kings in recent years, particularly with regards to drafting. The Kings have an excellent system filled with high-ceiling prospects. You could make a case it is the best in the league. Considering all the draft capital the Devils have, it’s easy to see why Futa was especially attractive.

Gilman has worked with the Maple Leafs for a while now. He’s had his hand in pretty much everything (Marlies, analytics, CBA, etc.) for one of the more smartly run organizations in the league. He also worked closely with Mike Gillis on what was a very progressive, and strong, Vancouver Canucks team.

If the Devils were to go outside the organization for the GM job, Futa and Gilman were very high on my list.

I have absolutely no problem with them handing the keys over to Tom Fitzgerald, though. He paid his dues and knows the organization inside and out. That’s a bonus. More importantly, though, he passed his first test at the trade deadline with flying colours and showed he was worthy of an opportunity.

Let’s hope he makes the most of it.

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