We have a very interesting story developing in the National Hockey League and what makes it even more interesting is that no one seems to have a complete picture of what is going on right now.
Lets start at the beginning. A little over a year ago now billionaire Alex Meruelo made the bold move of purchasing the Arizona Coyotes, a franchise that had historically been quite dysfunctional and historically one of the National Hockey League's most maligned organizations both on and off the ice. Since then it has largely been business as usual for the Coyotes but this week reports began to filter out of the organization that suggest the team may be headed for a split with long time general manager John Chayka.
The rumors first started this week when it was revealed by Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic that team had set up a meeting with pending unrestricted free agent Taylor Hall. The meeting, reportedly a dinner involving Hall, had not included Chayka and in fact according to the sources cited by Somers the Coyotes general manager was not even aware of the meeting until a day after it happened.
"John wasn’t at the meeting, he wasn’t the one who set it up and he wasn’t the one making the offer," the source said as per Somers.
The "offer" being referenced here is reportedly a low ball offer that was made by team president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez, a man personally installed by Meruelo himself, and by Meruelo's son Alex Meruelo Jr. and according to those same sources it was a "low ball" offer. That wouldn't seem to fit with Chayka's plans given that the Coyotes general manager made a big move to acquire Hall at the deadline and presumably views him as part of the organization's future.
Now that in and of itself would look suspicious enough, but on Friday night Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman shed more light on this bizarre situation and made things sound even worse. According to Friedman there is now a "growing sense" that the Coyotes and Chayka are headed for a divorce, with Friedman even indicating that one source has informed him that Chayka's office has been cleaned out. Chayka was also missing from the team's scrimmage on Friday afternoon and there have even been reports that he may not have been included on the Coyotes 52 person list of people heading inside the NHL's bubble for Phase 4 and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There seems to be a missing piece to this story, the Coyotes extended Chayka just last November and just over a month ago the aforementioned Xavier Gutierrez seemed to balk at the notion that Chayka would not be their long term general manager. Things seem to have taken a drastic turn, the question now is what could have caused such a sudden shift from the Coyotes and their new ownership?