Sunday, 26 July 2020

Like A Wile E. Coyote Cartoon

It's hard to imagine that Coyotes general manager could pinpoint the exact moment his efforts were no longer needed in Glendale, but this image might be the moment he picks. As of today, Coyotes GM John Chayka has tendered his resignation from the position, leaving assistant GM Steve Sullivan as the man who will carry the management bags for the Coyotes moving forward. The reasons for Chayka's abrupt resignation have yet to be fully revealed, but it seems the man tasked with making the Arizona Coyotes into a Stanley Cup contender was left out of key meetings and decisions lately, and this may speak to how the Coyotes' new ownership group viewed Chayka's body of work. Whatever the case was, Chayka's officially out in Arizona as of today.

Chayka's efforts in the desert saw him bring in some superstars such as Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall to help bolster a lineup full of young players, but his work in identifying some key performers through his advanced stats training may have been why the Coyotes were steadily improving as well. Both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta have stabilized the goaltending position with the Coyotes while some quality additions from other teams such as Nick Schmaltz and Carl Soderberg have added some key scoring. While the Coyotes aren't a perfect roster of all-stars, they were just four points from a playoff spot when the stoppage happened in March.

According to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, "at some point during the pandemic, the Coyotes were approached about Chayka's availability and granted permission for him to explore the situation." It seems hard for me to believe that the Coyotes would allow Chayka to explore this possibility when he's under contract through 2024, but it seems they went ahead and gave Chayka permission to look into this opportunity for some reason.

As per Friedman, "when it became apparent Chayka could leave, the Coyotes dug in and resisted." Again, why would you let him explore this possibility of leaving if you would refuse his request to leave? This seems like the Coyotes' owners might have underestimated Chayka's desire to move to whatever this new opportunity was, and then decided they had heard enough when Chayka leaving became a real possibility. What makes this ever stranger is that Coyotes "owner Alex Meruelo was a huge supporter of his GM" in his role with the team, so why would they even spend one second allowing Chayka to look into this opportunity?

With both the Coyotes and Chayka releasing different statements today on the events surrounding Chayka's resignation, it seems there are pieces to this story which have yet to come to light. A source told Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan, "There's this narrative that members of this organization started to take job functions away from John like talking to players and agents, but the reality is John abandoned the organization."


Chayka, meanwhile, told 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."

So it seems that there was some contention between Chayka and Meruelo's ownership team at some point, but what exactly "the situation" was hasn't been explained. Chayka did cryptically add, "That's all I intend to say on this matter for now. A fuller, more detailed explanation may be necessary in the near future."


Whatever happened here seems a little like a Roadrunner-Wile E. Coyote cartoon in that the Coyotes blame Chayka for whatever happened while Chayka is simply running away from whatever weird situation was setup by the Coyotes. It's honestly no laughing matter like a Warner Bros. cartoon, but the once-prosperous relationship between a GM and an owner has turned into a contentious, bitter battle.

And there are never winners in that situation.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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