The Arizona Coyotes and their former President of Hockey Ops and GM John Chayka are no longer in a long term relationship.
Friday afternoon at 5:00pm Eastern time was the deadline for each NHL team had to submit its 52-person list for travel into the Edmonton and Toronto NHL bubbles.
Earlier Friday, Elliotte Friedman reported that the Desert Dogs indicatedthat Chayka’s name woruld be submitted for bubble inclusion.
In the final analysis, Chayka's name was left off the Coyotes' list and the rampant speculation to reverberate on the Twitter machine in the sky.
Friedman was first to report that Chayka was not in attendance for the team’s scrimmage on Friday afternoon. One source indicated Chayka's office had been “cleaned out.” Friedman also reported that Chayka did not attend a dinner last week with Desert Dogs unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Taylor Hall. That's odd. Chayka executed the trade with the New Jersey Devils but he was not invited to the dinner to disvuss among other things Hall's next contract to keep him in Arizona long term.
Now we know the rest of the story.
On Sunday afternoon, Craig Morgan of azcoyotesinsider.com posted to Twitter a statement from Chayka in which he took the high road by not revealing the hints, allegatons and things left unsaid of the break up.
The Desert Dogs were not as classy in their team-issued statement that called Chayka a "liar' and a quitter. In all my years covering professional sports, I have never seen a professional sports franchise attack a former employee in such a a brazen, spiteful and nasty manner as the Coyotes barked at Chayka when the separation was finally announced. This is the kind of thing that occurs routinely when new owners take over pro sports franchises. He and she with the gold make the rules and generally hire their own senior management people.
Say what you will about Chayka, but the guy left the Coyotes organization in better condition than he found the team in.
By informing the Desert Dogs on Friday that he was terminating the final three years of his contract, Chayka became an in-demand free agent executive.
Friedman now reports that “according to multiple sources, Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will ask NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to adjudicate the ugly divorce between the organization and John Chayka, thereby determining the executive’s future.”
“This is a contractual dispute,” one source said Sunday afternoon.
In my opinion, Chayka should be thanking his lucky stars he is no longer working for the Desert Dogs. Attacking a high ranking executive's character in public is the kind of stuff that usually is usually thrown around by egotistical owners while in the privacy of their own board rooms behind closed doors.
Stay classy, Coyotes.
Remember in April 2017 when the Pegulas were searching for Tim Murray's replacement as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres? John Chayka was a rumored to be candidate of interest by the Pegulas. Chayka joined the Coyotes in 2015 as the assistant general manager responsible for analytics. Chayka then moved into the general manager's seat following the firing of longtime executive Don Maloney by the Coyotes. There was a lot of hockey buzz back in 2017 about how the Coyotes would vehemently decline any requests by the Pegulas and any other NHL clubs to ask for permission to interview Chayka for their oranizations.
The Sabres would eventually hire Jason Botterill to fill the void created by the firing of Murray.
So, six weeks ago, the Pegulas canned Botterill, his assistant general managers, scouting team and several organizational employees.
The Pegulas quickly hired Kevyn Adams, an NHL front office rookie, to replace Botterill.
Why were the Sabres so quick to hire Adams? The Pegulas had the luxury of time to ride the storm out and see which candidates became available after the NHL resumes play for the postseason which begins on August 1.
All told, the COVID19 pandemic will prevent the Sabres from hitting the ice again until November when training camp begins for the 2020-21 season. When it's all said and done, the Sabres will have been off the ice for eight long, grueling months.
Was Chayka a legit candidate to be Botterill's replacement? Was Chayka interested in exploring the New Jersey Devils’ General manger position that was eventually filled by interim GM Tom Fitzgerald?
I was told in early July that the owners of the Sabres were intrigued with the idea of hiring John Chayka to a position in the front office of the Sabres. Exactly which position with the Sabres was never divulged.
Terry Pegula said recently that he “doesn’t believe” in hiring an over-arching position similar to a president of hockey operations. With GM stripes on his uniform shoulder, Chayka seemingly will want more control over acquiring personnel and shaping of the organization At his next stop in the NHL.
Or will he?
Chayka is now a free agent and is clean and clear to work for whichever NHL he chooses to. Chayka, 31, is native of Jordan, Ontario which is a short par three away from downtown Buffalo. Chayka also has a home in Niagara-On-The-Lake.
Meanwhile in Buffalo, Kevyn Adams has yet to hire his assistant general manager.
Furthermore, Chayka may be the type of executive The Pegulas are looking for to oversee the operations of the NFL Buffalo Bills, Rochester Americans, and HARBORCenter-Marriott hotel complex.
The Pegulas have been looking for a leader for their entire sports and
Is John Chayka their man?