Phoenix Coyotes' new GM is reportedly a 26-year-old 'analytics guru' who co-founded a hockey statistics firm

The Phoenix Coyotes have raised eyebrows in the NHL world with several reports that they will hire 26-year-old
John Chayka to be their new general manager.

Craig Custance of ESPN was the first to report the news. Several outlets have referred to Chayka as an “analytics guru.” An official announcement is expected on Thursday.

Chayka is a former junior hockey player who was later a co-founder of Stathletes, a Canadian company that uses video to statistically analyse professional hockey. That led to a position as an assistant GM with the Coyotes starting last summer.

The promotion is being seen as a clear indication that the Coyotes are going all-in on analytics in what could be viewed as the “Moneyball” of hockey.

However, co-owner Anthony LeBlanc, when talking last month about the hiring of Chayka as an assistant GM, noted that the team still wants to maintain a balance between analystics and traditional team-building.

“We definitely want communication and collaboration and we’re a strong believer in new trends that are emerging in sports, analytics being a part of that,” LeBlanc told the media (via Yahoo Sports). “I come from the technology world. Most of the partners come from the finance world. This is a big part of our lives, and we believe in it.

“[Chayka] has absolutely been a very impressive hire. A very poised young man — mature beyond his years. He’s been an incredibly positive addition to this organisation. I really got to witness it first hand when I sat in the war room in Pittsburgh for trade deadline. Just the sheer amount of knowledge he brings. But at the end of the day it’s not like it’s a new thing in sports — it’s obviously been well documented, the importance of analytics. But it’s not the be-all-end-all. I’m not sitting here saying we’re going to turn ourselves into a Wall Street firm and have 25 kids here doing numbers, but I think there’s a fine balance and that’s what we’re trying to find.”

Interestingly, the Coyotes were also reportedly interested in hiring another analytics wiz kid, 30-year-old Kyle Dubas, an assistant general manager with the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, he said he is not ready.

“Very bluntly put, I don’t believe I’m ready to be an NHL general manager,” Dubas told the media (via Sportsnet).

Apparently Chayka thinks differently about himself.

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