The Arizona Coyotes announced 26 year old John Chayka as their new general manager today. Chayka was brought aboard as an assistant general manager last season and, surprise surprise, handled the team's analytics department. Much will be made about this hire, and not just because of his age.
We've seen a slide towards a more analytical approach in front offices over the past several years but this is by far the splashiest move. The Leafs hire of Kyle Dubas comes close, but Dubas had previous experience in junior hockey. Here's Chayka's blurb on the Coyotes' website:
Prior to joining the Coyotes, he co-founded and served as Director of Hockey Operations at Stathletes Inc. since 2009. Stathletes is a hockey analytics firm that tracks data through an intensive video analysis process and breaks down the game to provide objective insight into player and team performance tendencies.
The 25-year-old native of Jordan Station, Ontario earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in 2014.
Stathletes still exists and Chayka's sister, Meghan Chayka, is the director of research. It's a company that specializes in hockey analytics, so...prepare for some hot takes from the Old Guard about the death of the Old School Way of Managing.
The reality of this hire is, as always, not quite as earth shattering as the ensuing debate will make it sound. If Chayka is good at what he does he won't be replacing scouts with computers and eyeballs with iPads. Successfully running a hockey team takes a blend of smart analysis and a variety of voices — we'll see if the Coyotes get this cocktail right.