Flirtation with Devils owners led to John Chayka leaving

Hockey: - 28-07-20

John Chayka lost his post as GM of the Arizona Coyotes due to a flirtation with the owners of the New Jersey Devils, The Press learned on Tuesday.


The recent meeting was supposed to be informal, Chayka told his Coyotes bosses, but the offer made by Josh Harris and David Blitzer was unexpected.

Harris and Blitzer, owners of the Devils, the 76 ers Philadelphia in the NBA and in the race for the purchase of the New York Mets in Major League Baseball, Chayka proposed to direct the analytical department for the three North American courses , in the event that the acquisition of the Mets materializes.

New Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo had a hard time digesting it, especially since Chayka had just signed a four-year contract extension last fall.

"John Chayka has given up his post"

The Coyotes and Chayka announced their separation on Sunday. The team issued a very harsh press release.

John Chayka stepped down as general manager and president of hockey operations for the Arizona Coyotes. The club are disappointed with their actions and the timing to leave, on the eve of the playoffs in the Edmonton bubble, their first playoff appearance since 2012. Chayka has chosen to abandon a strong and competitive team, a staff devoted and fans of the Coyotes, the biggest fans of the NHL.

Excerpt from an Arizona Coyotes press release explaining Chayka's firing


Alex Meruelo couldn't digest his young GM's flirtation with the owners of another NHL team.

Chayka's message was less incisive.


“The past four years have been the best of my life. I became a husband and father in Arizona. I worked as hard as I could to make the Coyotes a Stanley Cup contender. I love our players, coaches, staff and fans, and wished I had been with the club in Edmonton. But sadly, the situation caused by the owners makes the situation impossible. I will limit myself to these comments for now. A more detailed explanation could possibly be provided. "

Fortune of 5 billion

Josh Harris' fortune is estimated at $ 5 billion, according to financial magazine Forbes. Blitzer would be worth 1.3 billion.

Harris and Blitzer made their entry into the world of sport by buying the 76 ers for 287 million in 2011. The team is worth 2 billion today, according to Forbes. The duo then bought the Devils for 320 million in 2013. The Devils are now worth 550 million.


Josh Harris, co-owner of the New Jersey Devils and 76ers.

Harris, co-founder of the investment firm Apollo Global, and Blitzer, a member of the management of the Blackstone group, also own the Crystal Palace soccer club, in the English Premier League.

The New York Mets were supposed to be sold to Steve Cohen in December, but the $ 2.6 billion deal fell through in February. Steve Cohen wanted full power immediately, while the owner, the Wilpon family, wanted to maintain some control for the next five years. (See the link at the bottom of the page)

Former major baseball star Alex Rodriguez and his wife, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez, have also expressed interest in purchasing the Mets.

Chayka, the youngest GM in NHL history

Chayka became at the age of 26, in 2016, the youngest general manager in the history of the National Hockey League. His reign was not very successful. The Coyotes have missed the playoffs every year since his arrival and were on track to miss them again this season, were it not for the new formula established by the NHL.

The rebuilding of the squad was not very encouraging either. Chayka sacrificed a first-round pick in 2020, one of his top defense prospects, Kevin Bahl, drafted in the second round in 2018, and Nick Merkley, drafted in the first round in 2015, for Taylor Hall, a free free agent. compensation as of 1 st  of July. Hall's arrival did not have the desired impact. The Coyotes were 19-12-4 before the trade in December, and 14-17-4 after his arrival. The owners are still trying to convince Hall to stay in Arizona.

The previous summer, the fallen Coyotes GM sold Alex Galchenyuk (obtained from the Canadian in return for Max Domi two years ago) and a young defenseman drafted in the first round in 2017, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, for Phil Kessel. He has amassed just 38 points, including 14 goals, in 70 games, with a -21 record. The worst forward after him is -6. In the end, Chayka will have traded Max Domi, then 23, and Joseph for Kessel, 32, whose annual salary of 8 million is in effect for two more seasons.

Seven first-round picks exchanged

Since arriving in 2016, Chayka has traded seven first-round draft picks and two first-round picks.

First-round pick in 2011, Connor Murphy, 26, was traded for Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2017. Hjalmarsson, 32, is a quality defenseman but has only appeared in 11 games this season due to injury. Murphy, 6'4 ”, 212 pounds, is the most-used defenseman in Chicago after Duncan Keith.

Henrik Samuelsson, drafted in the first round in 2012, has been traded for Mitch Moroz. No miracle to be done here. Two minor league players. Samuelsson plays in England today, Moroz in the ECHL (formerly East Coast).

Max Domi is the first round pick in 2013. He's in Montreal, Galchenyuk is already gone, Kessel is dragging his slack in Arizona.

The first-round pick in 2014 and 2015, Brendan Perlini (12 th overall) and Dylan Strome (3 th overall), passed the Blackhawks for Nick Schmaltz. This exchange is not bad. Perlini was already a disaster foretold and he's already no longer in Chicago. Strome has revived his career in Chicago, but Schmaltz is also very good for the Coyotes. Another first-round pick in 2015 (30 th overall), Nick Merkley, passed the Devils in exchange for Taylor Hall.

Chayka wanted to plug holes in June 2017 by relinquishing his first-round pick and defender Tony DeAngelo to Derek Stepan and goalkeeper Antti Raanta, but the strategy has not paid off in the long run. Raanta is still injured. Stepan, 30 this summer, is limited offensively. He got just 35 points last year and he has 21 this season. New York didn't make the right choice in the draft. They selected Lias Andersson in seventh place. Nick Suzuki, Martin Necas and Robert Thomas were still available.

DeAngelo, 24, has emerged as a dominant defender. He has 53 points in 68 games for the Rangers, fourth in scoring among NHL defensemen behind John Carlson, Roman Josi and Victor Hedman.

In short, one wonders why so much interest from Devils owners in a man whose work is not very impressive in Arizona.