Chayka steps down as Arizona GM a week before qualifier

NHL Hockey
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona general manager John Chayka has stepped down, one week before the Coyotes open the Stanley Cup qualifiers against Nashville.

The Coyotes announced Sunday former player and current assistant GM Steve Sullivan will serve as interim general manager.

“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 postseason play for the first time since 2012,” the team said in a statement.

“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.”

Chayka made a name for himself as one of the NHL’s top general managers since being promoted in 2016 and recently signed a contract extension through 2024 late last year.

Chayka’s relationship with new owner Alex Meruelo began to deteriorate when he asked for permission to pursue another, non-NHL opportunity. The Arizona Republic reported Chayka was not invited to a recent dinner with Meruelo and new CEO Xavier Gutierrez to talk with Taylor Hall about a contract extension.

News of Chayka’s departure came the same day the Coyotes were scheduled to leave for Edmonton for the Stanley Cup qualifiers. Arizona opens against the Predators next Sunday in its first postseason appearance since reaching the 2012 Western Conference finals.

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