Two days after the Buffalo Sabres finished their regular season, Jack Eichel made his feelings known – and then some.
It’s uncharacteristic in hockey for players to be too open about what goes on in the room and behind-the-scenes, so the forward’s revelations on Monday went down with a big splash.
“I would say I’ve been a bit upset about the way that things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Eichel said. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. So yeah, I think that there’s been a bit of a disconnect from the organization a bit and myself. It’s been tough at times.”
Citing a disconnect between the organization and himself is not subtle. At all.
Everyone knows things have fallen apart in Buffalo and this certainly doesn’t help. The Sabres finished the regular season with a 15-34-7 record, good for last in the NHL. They haven’t seen the playoffs since 2010-2011.
Eichel missed the final 33 games of the season and has been out of the lineup since March 7 with a herniated disc in the neck.
According to Eichel, the Sabres have a different opinion as to how he should proceed with the injury. He is said to prefer surgery, while Buffalo ostensibly disagrees.
According to Sabres manager Kevyn Adams back on April 15, he had a group conversation with doctors, Eichel, and the player’s agents and discussed next steps.
Adams is due to meet with media Wednesday, so perhaps there will be more clarity about this issue.
“My number one interest and my number one goal is Jack Eichel,” said Eichel. “You’ve got to look after yourself. You’ve got to look after what you think is best for yourself. The organization has a similar job to do, but it’s to look after what is best for the Buffalo Sabres. I’ve got to do what is best for me. I’m only going to play hockey for so long. I’m 24 years old. Hopefully, I have many more years in this amazing game left, but I’ve got to take care of myself.”
There’s no doubting Eichel’s right to prioritize himself, but it is uncommon to hear such a statement in what is traditionally seen as a team-first sport.
Eichel has five years to go on his current contract, but it’s believed this prickly relationship could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
While arguments about treatment may continue irrespective of where Eichel ends up, it’s highly expected that a number of potential suitors will be waiting in the wings for a shot at the North Chelmsford native.
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