As the NHL teams arrived at their bubble hotels for the playoffs, the Arizona Coyotes were missing their general manager.
The Coyotes parted ways with John Chayka, the league’s youngest general manager, when he was hired in 2016 at the age of 26.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last week reported a split over a third party asking for permission from the team during the pandemic to speak to Chayka about other work. This was granted, but when Chayka expressed interest (which is not believed to be a similar position elsewhere in the NHL), the team withdrew from the deal. A discussion to let Chayka end the current season has not resolved a rapidly deteriorating relationship.
The team released a blunt statement on Sunday that read in part “John Chayka has resigned… the club are disappointed with his actions and his timing.”
Chayka, in his statement, said he had worked hard to make the team a Stanley Cup contender, that he “loved the players, the coaching staff and the fans”, wished he could be in Edmonton to the first round, but “the situation created by the property made that impossible.
Arizona, who improved defensively but failed to score under the analysis-avid Chayka, spoke to assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, who received the interim tag ahead of the top five series against Nashville . Sullivan becomes the third former Maple Leaf player to take charge of an NHL team during the COVID-19 hiatus with Tom Fitzgerald officially promoted to general manager in New Jersey and Kevyn Adams replacing Jason Botterill in Buffalo.
Twelve teams are in Edmonton for the Western Conference Round 1 qualifier and first round robin, while 12 other teams from the East have arrived in Toronto. The Oilers and Leafs hosts stay in hotels like other clubs.
WILL THE GREAT NAMES BE BACK?
The Montreal Canadiens’ chances of knocking down the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round would certainly be increased if Sidney Crosby couldn’t play early in their streak.
But although Crosby missed Pittsburgh’s last practice on Saturday before flying to Toronto after a day of secrecy over a nagging illness, he intends to train on Monday. He had missed a week before returning to the ice on Friday.
“I hope I can skate with the team and go from there,” Crosby told reporters in Pittsburgh. “Ideally I would be able to play (Tuesday show against the Philadelphia Flyers). Otherwise just one day at a time from there.
Equally concerning is whether the Tampa Bay Lightning will have captain Steve Stamkos and Norris Trophy contender Victor Hedman ready when the tournament begins on August 1. The two will be struck from Wednesday’s show against the Florida Panthers, Stamkos with a lower body injury, Hedman with “a personal matter”, according to GM Julien BriseBois who will keep him at home until Friday
As for sniper Stamkos, coach Jon Cooper said “there’s still time to get him back” for the start of the standings games, with the Bolts and Capitals facing off next Monday.
LOW WRENCH LEAFS-HABS
The Canadiens and the Leafs, the league’s two oldest franchises, have played many shows over the years, but certainly never one like this Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena.
Despite the two most rabid fans in Canada, they will perform in an empty ice rink with noise and music from the crowd, as one of the tournament’s first try-out matches. The Leafs may not even be on their usual bench as all clubs try to get used to some very weird playing environments in the coming weeks.
But both teams can’t wait to play someone other than themselves to try out certain line combinations. For Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, it’s a key test of whether rookie Nick Robertson can follow NHL competition in a full game as he auditions on the third row, while the Montreal coach Claude Julien had striker Max Domi in the center of the fourth unit. with Jordan Weal and Dale Weise as the team wrapped up camp.
“You have a good balance and you have experience on each line because we are a young team,” said Julien. “When you have young players in your roster, you try to give them a chance to succeed by having experienced guys around them.
“(Pittsburgh) doesn’t have just one line, or one player, that can do damage. They have more than that on different lines. If we’re going to win this series, we’re going to need everyone to do their jobs against some of the best players in Pittsburgh.
When ranking Robertson, who is expected to play alongside Alex Kerfoot and Kaspari Kapanen, Keefe is aware of getting his star back into shape.
“The level of conditioning in our squad, seeing how we do in a game, playing three full periods, stopping time… I have to deal with that by looking at our best guys. I want to try to make sure I give them the proper minutes to prepare them, but without going overboard and putting them in bad conditions. “
Winnipeg Jets great Dale Hawerchuk is once again battling the disease.
“My father is back in his fight against cancer due to a resurgence of this terrible disease,” his son Eric tweeted on Sunday. “We pray for him and he will continue to fight hard.”
The news comes after the 57-year-old man underwent chemotherapy in April. He took time off as head coach of the OHL Barrie Colts last September after learning he had stomach cancer. In January he had a successful gastrectomy and in May was feeling optimistic.
Goalkeeper Corey Crawford was able to join the Chicago Blackhawks in time for their next series against the Oilers after being quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. His condition has not changed beyond flu-like symptoms … With all eyes on Flyers goaltenders next week, Carter Hart was able to train on Saturday for the first time since back spasms. sidelined it on Tuesday.