Growing sense GM John Chayka and Coyotes are headed for divorce

Elliotte Friedman explains why there could be a shakeup in the front office of the Arizona Coyotes.

At 5 p.m. ET Friday night, each NHL team had to submit its 52-person list for travel into the Edmonton/Toronto bubbles. Earlier in the day, Arizona indicated it “expected” GM John Chayka’s name to be submitted.

As I write this, I can’t say for certain that he’s on the list. But, whether it is or isn’t, there is a growing sense that Chayka and the Coyotes are headed for divorce.

The GM was not in attendance for the team’s scrimmage on Friday afternoon. One source indicated his office had been “cleaned out.” Ever since it was reported that Chayka did not attend a dinner last week with unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Taylor Hall, more stories have filtered out about agent/team conversations that did not involve the current manager.

Representing the Coyotes is some combination of President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez, assistant GM Steve Sullivan (maybe the next GM?) and Alex Meruelo Jr, the owner’s son, listed as Strategic Advisor, Business and Hockey Operations.

“Chayka’s gone dark,” one agent said. (He did not respond to messages for this story.)

It’s a weird one. There’s something missing here. Six weeks ago, when he was hired, Gutierrez reacted with surprise when asked if there was any reason Chayka wouldn’t be the long-term GM. Others have wondered if he’s being punished for accusations that the Coyotes violated draft-eligible workout rules, but, earlier this week, the NHL denied that was the case.

We’ll see where this goes, but it doesn’t appear promising.

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