Unfortunately for all your Buffalo Sabres fans out there who were holding out hope there was never really any doubt about this one.
The National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety has just announced that they have suspended Buffalo Sabres star forward Jack Eichel for what they deemed to be an illegal blow to Colorado Avalanche veteran forward Carl Soderberg. There was no question that this was a dirty play from Eichel and given that this was not only a dirty play but a clear blow to the head of a defenseless player there was no doubt that the suspension was coming. In this particular case the National Hockey League has determined that a two game suspension, something that has become standard for first offenses that are illegal hits to the head as of late, was warranted in this instance.
You do have to feel for both the Buffalo Sabres fan base and Jack Eichel himself a little on this though because it was quite obvious that this was payback for another cheap shot that had occurred earlier in the night. Eichel had previously been hit well after the whistle by Colorado Avalance defenseman Nikita Zadorov and that hit also looked like it may have caught Eichel a little high, or at least the finish into the boards certainly made Eichel's head a point of contact. I have no doubt that it was for this reason that Eichel went seeking revenge, and I also have no doubt that this is why the Sabres captain now finds himself suspended for the first time in his NHL career.
That being said though it was not Soderberg who hit him after the whistle and taking those kind of liberties with a guy likely in the later stages of his career is not a great look and certainly will not earn you any love in the Avalanche locker room or among Avalanche loyalists. Given that there was no additional discipline handed down for the hit from Zadorov on Eichel, I fully expect that when these two teams next meet there will be plenty of fireworks on both sides of the ice. The Sabres will be seeking revenge for Eichel, while the Avalanche will no doubt want to avenge this ugly hit on Soderberg.