Within minutes of rumors that Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka had terminated his contract with the team 48 hours ago, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the team will name Steve Sullivan their interim general manager.
The club released a statement:
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.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Chayka had informed the Coyotes Friday that he was terminating his contract with his team. This comes shortly after reports that Chayka was given permission six weeks ago to talk to another potential employer about a job opportunity during the pandemic. Since then, Chayka has cleared out his office and was omitted from a key dinner between ownership and pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall, suggesting the rift. Chayka had either three or four years remaining on his contract, via different sources.
Chayka also released a statement of his own (via’s AZ Coyote Insider Craig Morgan):
“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, our 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.”
Sullivan has been with the Coyotes’ franchise since September of 2014 and was holding the assistant general manager position since May of 2017. He has been the GM of the Tuscon Roadrunners, the team’s AHL franchise and has been overseeing the Coyotes’ amateur player development staff. The 46-year-old is a former player, who appeared in 1,011 career games with six different teams, including the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Coyotes. While there is no guarantee that Arizona doesn’t do an extensive search after the 24-team tournament is completed, Friedman notes that he wouldn’t be surprised if he got a long look as the permanent GM.
It should be noted that the news of Chayka’s departure from the team and Sullivan’s promotion come on the heels of the team leaving today for Edmonton to participate in the upcoming tournament playoffs.