Jack Eichel Removed As Captain

Sabres Remove Eichel
Jan 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) warms up before a game against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams announced that Jack Eichel has been removed as captain of the team. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision,” Adams told reporters at his press conference this morning. Adams spoke to the media before the Sabres held the first practice of training camp Thursday morning at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. It was also announced that Eichel failed his physical, as expected.

Eichel sustained a herniated disk in his neck during the 2021 season that caused him to miss the Sabres’ final 33 games. Later in the summer, Eichel stated during his end of season availability that there was a disconnect between himself and the Sabres as to how the injury should be treated. Eichel and his camp want an artificial disk replacement surgery. The Sabres, however, disagree on this. The Sabres have pointed out that a surgery like this has never been performed on an NHL player. Further, the Sabres’ medical staff have recommended a more conservative rehab approach.

Issues Unresolved

The Sabres have been searching for a way to trade the disgruntled Eichel throughout the summer. However, no deals have been reached. The Sabres asking price for Eichel is reportedly very high. The Sabres were asking for at least 6 assets in an Eichel trade, including young players with NHL experience and first-round draft picks. This led to trade talks stalling out, and Eichel remains on the roster at the start of training camp. GM Kevyn Adams later lowered the asking price to 4 pieces. Those 4 pieces are still reported to be some combination of first-round picks and young NHL-proven talent.

It is truly sad to see this situation get to this point. A player that is unable to receive the treatment he feels is best for his long-term health is bad enough. But now to publicly shame him by stripping him of his captaincy? Shame on Kevyn Adams, and shame on  the Buffalo Sabres organization. A fan base as loyal and as passionate as the one the Sabres boast deserve better than this. And most importantly, Jack Eichel deserves better than this. He has done nothing short of carrying this team on his back while management fails to surround him with the pieces he needs to be successful.

Some Good News

Adams did have a small piece of good news to deliver at his pre-training camp press conference. When asked what the Sabres vaccination rate was going into camp, Adams responded with “100%”. This comes as good news, as any players left unvaccinated will be subject to far stricter health and safety protocols than their vaccinated teammates. Being unvaccinated will also cause players to miss games, as they will not be able to travel across the U.S.-Canada border.

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