The Arizona Coyotes have promoted Steve Sullivan to interim general manager after John Chayka quit as GM and president of hockey operations, the club announced Sunday.
Sportsnet‘s Elliotte Friedman reported earlier Sunday that Sullivan would move up from assistant GM and his position would be re-evaluated after the playoffs.
“The club is disappointed in (Chayka’s) 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,” said the statement.
“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.”
In a statement obtained by Azcoyotesinsider.com’s Craig Morgan, Chayka said “the situation created by ownership” made being with the team an “impossibility.”
“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,” said Chayka, per Morgan.
“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.”
The Coyotes are set to face the Nashville Predators as part of the NHL’s expanded, return-to-play post-season format in their first playoff action since 2012.
On Saturday, Friedman reported the relationship between Chayka and the Coyotes fell apart over another job opportunity.
Chayka had four years remaining on his contract. He became the youngest GM in NHL history when the Coyotes promoted him to the position after previously serving as assistant GM. Over the course of four seasons at the club’s helm, the Coyotes compiled a 131-147-38 record.