Sunday: LeBrun reports that he’s heard from a league source that Chayka terminated his contract with the Coyotes 48 hours ago. However, there has been no confirmation from the team.
Saturday: Friedman provided an update on the situation, reporting that the issue stems from a job opportunity that they allowed Chayka to pursue. It wasn’t a lateral move either. Craig Morgan of AZ Coyotes Insider clarifies (Twitter link) that the job opportunity wasn’t with another NHL team either but instead another professional opportunity. At one point, Friedman noted that a transition period was discussed which would see Chayka stay on through the end of the season was discussed although those talks fell apart. As things stand, Chayka is still the GM in title but does not appear to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the team.
Friday: Earlier this week, it was reported that the Coyotes held a meeting with pending UFA Taylor Hall. On the surface, that’s not a big deal as they’d naturally want to touch base with someone they paid a fair bit to get and would like to keep. However, the fact that GM John Chayka was not involved (or even aware) of the meeting certainly raised some eyebrows. President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez headlined Arizona’s representation at that meeting.
It appears that this isn’t a one-off situation. A source indicated to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that Chayka’s office has been cleaned out while earlier in the day, Friedman noted that Chayka’s presence on the 52-person roster (including players and staff) wasn’t guaranteed. While a general manager being with the team isn’t a must-have proposition, most are expected to join their teams in the bubble. Friedman also added that other stories have come out about conversations with agents that haven’t involved Chayka.
Earlier this season, word came out that the Coyotes had been caught working out draft-eligible players with punishment still pending from the league. Friedman mentions that Chayka’s mysterious absence has nothing to do with that.
Chayka has been at the helm in Arizona since 2016 and received a contract extension back in November even though he had a year and a half left on his deal at the time so to see questions about his future at this time comes as somewhat of a surprise. Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic adds (Twitter link) that Chayka has three years left on his deal, meaning the extension was for two years even though it wasn’t announced at the time.
While the Coyotes haven’t had a lot of success under Chayka’s tenure (they’ve missed the playoffs in his three seasons with this year’s placement to be determined), he has assembled a decent core group with their defense and goaltending being among the stronger groups in the league. However, it appears as if there’s some sort of chasm between him and ownership with both Friedman and LeBrun suggesting the two sides could be heading for a divorce. That would be quite the turn of events considering the recent public vote of confidence but it seems like things are heading in that direction.