Coyotes slam report on organizational turmoil as 'harassment campaign'
The Arizona Coyotes denounced an article from The Athletic's Katie Strang published Tuesday reporting a great deal of financial and interpersonal turmoil within the organization under owner Alex Meruelo, who took over in July 2019.
"We are very disappointed that The Athletic, for several months, has condoned a harassment campaign against Mr. Alex Meruelo, the Arizona Coyotes, the Meruelo Group, and dozens of current employees and former employees," part of a statement from the Coyotes read.
"We question the potential reliance by The Athletic on disgruntled ex-employees who have proven to be untrustworthy and lacking in candor on confidential non-public information, and on vendors with whom the club secured negotiated settlements to undo years of financial mismanagement under prior ownership and club leadership."
Seyfarth Shaw law firm met with Coyotes employees this year to investigate potential financial irregularities, workplace culture, and at least one case of alleged sexual harassment, Strang reports.
Law firm representatives reportedly inquired about the accuracy of the financial documents the Coyotes provided to third parties and the NHL, allegations of intimidation and threats against employees, and COVID-19 protocols and compliance.
The team was also reportedly late in paying several players' signing bonuses in 2020 and didn't issue per diem payments in the playoff bubble as mandated by the CBA, leading the NHLPA to become involved.
According to Strang, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, who was hired in September, emailed hockey operations staff warning that any "unauthorized distribution of any club information will not be permitted and is grounds for disciplinary action, up to immediate termination."
The email was obtained by The Athletic, and Armstrong later told Strang he believed that files had been stolen from his computer and the person responsible would be going to jail.
Eight vendors also told Strang that the Coyotes had outstanding or overdue balances or had negotiated a reduction in their debt.
The Coyotes declined interview requests for Strang's story.
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