NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2020
Updates on John Chayka’s messy departure from the Coyotes, 24 teams travel to hub cities for the upcoming playoff tournament, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHAYKA TERMINATES CONTRACT WITH COYOTES
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes yesterday released a blunt statement indicating John Chayka terminated his contract as their general manager. “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,” the statement read. Assistant GM Steve Sullivan is taking over the role on an interim basis.
Chayka countered with his own statement, indicating how much he enjoyed his four years in the role, his work in building the club into a playoff contender, how much he loved the players, coaches, staff, and fans, and how he wished he could be with the club in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility”.
The relationship between Chayka and Coyotes ownership recently soured over a possible job opportunity. The club originally gave Chayka approval to explore the opportunity but then changed its mind.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources are claiming Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will ask NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to adjudicate the split between the club and Chayka. Friedman heard rumors linking Chayka to the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. The job offer was reportedly for a much larger role than a general manager position.
TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted sources told him the Sabres weren’t the mystery team supposedly expressing interest in Chayka.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think anyone’s surprised this has quickly deteriorated into a “they said-he said” situation following several days of speculation over Chayka’s status with the Coyotes. What’s clear is things fell apart quickly. This is yet another chapter in the years of uncertainty plaguing the Coyotes, providing fodder for critics to cast doubt over the club’s long-term stability in their current market.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS
NHL.COM: The league yesterday released the Phase 4 player rosters for the 24 teams participating in the playoff tournament that opens this Saturday. Each club was limited to 31 players it could bring into the Secure Zones in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Concerns over a potential spike in positive COVID-19 cases during the recent two-week training camp period of Phase 3 proved unfounded. That’s a credit to the league, the teams, and the players for maintaining the strict health and social-distancing guidelines. A COVID outbreak could occur in one of those secure zones during Phase 4, but the teams will be better protected in those zones that they were in their home cities during Phase 3.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is remaining in Tampa Bay to deal with a personal matter. He’s expected to join his teammates in Toronto on Friday.
THE SCORE: Speaking of the Lightning, captain Steven Stamkos remains day-to-day with an injury suffered during Phase 2 training. He’ll miss the exhibition game Wednesday against the Florida Panthers but is expected to suit up when the post-season begins.
CBS SPORTS: Oskar Lindblom was included in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 31-team roster and traveled to Toronto with his teammates. Lindblom recently completed treatment for a rare form of bone cancer. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to play when the playoff tournament begins Saturday.
THE SCORE: Pictures have emerged showing the inside of the secure zones for NHL players in Edmonton and Toronto.
HAWERCHUK ILL, SHACK PASSES AWAY
TSN: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is battling a recurrence of his stomach cancer. He’s completed chemotherapy in April.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hawerchuk for a speedy recovery.
TORONTO SUN: Former NHL forward Eddie Shack passed away Saturday at 83 following a battle with throat cancer. Nicknamed “Eddie the Entertainer”, the popular Shack spent 17 seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1958-59 through 1974-75. He won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs in the 1960s. In 1,047 games, Shack tallied 239 goals, 465 points, and 1,431 PIMs. He went on to become a successful businessman and NHL Alumni participant following his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shack was a character but also a very effective and tough depth player. I met him briefly as a kid in the 1970s when he was doing promotional work for The Pop Shoppe and again at an NHL alumni game in Calgary in 1995. He was funny and kind to everyone, taking time to chat and sign autographs. My condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.