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Chayka quits as Coyotes general manager, replaced by Sullivan

Was youngest at position in NHL history when hired at age 26 @NHLdotcom

John Chayka quit as general manager and president of hockey operations of the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday and was replaced by assistant Steve Sullivan.

"The club is disappointed in his actions and his timing as the Coyotes prepare to enter the NHL's hub city of Edmonton, where the team will begin postseason play for the first time since 2012," the Coyotes said in a statement. "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 club is moving forward and has named Steve Sullivan as interim general manager. He has the full support of the entire organization including team ownership, executive leadership, players and coaches. The club will have no further comment on the matter, as the club remains focused on the opportunity to pursue a Stanley Cup."

Chayka became the youngest general manager in NHL history when he was hired at 26 on May 5, 2016. He was named president of hockey operations July 12, 2017, and signed a long-term contract with the Coyotes on Nov. 11, 2019.

Among the moves the Coyotes made since Chayka was named GM were trading for forwards Taylor Hall, Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz, Derek Stepan, Carl Soderberg, Lawson Crouse and Vinnie Hinostroza; defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers and Jordan Oesterle; and goalies Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper. They also signed free agent defenseman Alex Goligoski and forward Michael Grabner; and drafted forwards Clayton Keller (No. 7, 2016) and Barrett Hayton (No. 5, 2018) and defenseman Jakob Chychrun (No. 16, 2016).

However, the Coyotes never reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs during Chayka's tenure. Their last postseason appearance was the 2012 Western Conference Final, a five-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

This season, Arizona was 33-29-8 (.529 points percentage) and will enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference. It will play the Nashville Predators (35-26-8, .565), the No. 6 seed, in a best-of-5 series that will begin in Edmonton, the Western hub city, Aug. 2.

The winner advances to the playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, scheduled to be held Aug. 10.

The Coyotes will play an exhibition game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV).

"I've got to worry about the team," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said July 25. "I'm not an outside noises guy, I don't like outside noises. I cocoon the team here, our players. We had a great practice today and then we'll jump on the plane and we'll see what happens from there. We're just worried about Nashville and how we're going to go to Edmonton and deal with what's there."

Sullivan, 46, was GM of Tucson in American Hockey League for the past three seasons. He scored 747 points (290 goals, 457 assists) in 1,011 NHL games, and 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 50 playoff games.

One of Arizona's top priorities with Sullivan will be signing Hall, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, to a long-term contract. Hall scored 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 35 games for Arizona after he was traded by the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 16. independent correspondent Alan Robinson contributed to this report

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