Analytics haven't so much forced their way into the NHL nowadays as they have kicked the door down, moved the furniture in, held a house-warming party, and planned to add an upstairs balcony.
Of course, there are still some skeptics. Namely...
The GMs still left in the playoffs: Hockey lifers Yzerman, Wilson, Armstrong, Poile, Nill, Rutherford, Snow, MacLellan. Good luck Arizona.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) May 5, 2016
Let's be clear: the only place the "stats vs. eye test" argument plays out is in straw men arguments. No serious stats proponent thinks that an NHL roster can be perfectly constructed by analytics alone. And people like Jen Lute Costella and Corey Sznajder (to name just two excellent examples) probably "watch the games" more than anybody not in an NHL front office.
And yet, Chayka is going to be bombarded with questions about his youth and his approach for years to come. How big of a drawback is it really though?
Age Before Wisdom?
Let's start with the obvious: John Chayka is not going this alone. "Hockey lifer" Dave Tippett is a part of the brain trust, as will be whomever the Coyotes name as Assistant General Manager.
Some names that had been tossed around include Les Jackson, who has been in Dallas since 2000, and Laurence Gilman, who was previously with the Coyotes for 13 years before becoming AGM in Vancouver back in 2008. So even if the GM job was all about experience, Chayka is going to have an experienced supporting cast. And if it isn't one of those two, it's going to be somebody else with front office experience.
Experience is important. But intelligence is more important. If Chayka is smart, then his youth won't matter much. And with the right people around him, he can learn plenty fast.
There's plenty of reasons to be skeptical, if not outwardly pessimistic, about this hire. The Coyotes have put together an incredibly unorthodox structure that also features members of the ownership group very prominently in hockey roles. It could work well. It could work very badly.
What is ultimately going to matter is how well John Chayka can use the advice of the people around him to help him reach his own conclusions. So long as Chayka remains at the helm in fact and not just in name, his youth and relative inexperience should not prove to be a major problem for the Coyotes.