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.
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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