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NHL suspends John Chayka for rest of year after dispute with Coyotes

The NHL has suspended former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka through Dec. 31 as part of its ruling on a dispute over his departure from the team last summer, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The league sent a memo to its teams about the decision, saying “Chayka engaged in conduct detrimental to the league, breached his obligation to the club, and was properly terminated by the club.”

On July 26, the Coyotes issued a statement saying that Chayka “quit” on the team and that the club was “disappointed” by his decision. In his own statement, Chayka said he left the team due to a “situation created by ownership.”

Shortly after the split, Friedman reported that Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo had asked Bettman to adjudicate the divorce to clarify some contract issues between the two parties.

At issue appeared to be whether the team allowed Chayka to pursue another opportunity. Friedman reported that about one month before the divorce, another NHL team reached out to the Coyotes asking for permission to speak to Chayka about a job. The request was initially denied but later permitted, and an offer Chayka couldn’t refuse was made. Friedman reported the Coyotes made it clear the titles “general manager” and/or “president of hockey operations” could not be involved, to prove that Chayka was not making a lateral move.

Chayka’s tenure with the club came under further scrutiny after a hearing on Aug. 6, when the Coyotes acknowledged they had violated the league’s combine testing policy during the 2019-20 season by conducting physical testing on draft-eligible players prior to the event.

At the end of the month, the organization was forced to forfeit its 2020 second-round pick and 2021 first-round selection for its actions. No discipline was handed down on any specific individuals involved in the case.

In September, the Coyotes replaced Chayka with Bill Armstrong, the former assistant GM of the St. Louis Blues.

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