On Monday the Buffalo Sabres began their exit interviews after another disappointing season in the National Hockey League. The public comments made by the players to the media following those interviews shared a common theme, absolutely no one is happy about the current situation in Buffalo, but the comments that sent the biggest shockwaves through the organization came from the team's captain and star forward, Jack Eichel.
It is hard to characterize what Eichel said as anything other than throwing the organization right under the bus, and then maybe backing it up once more for good measure, and I would argue that they are the kind of comments that would lead you to believe that Eichel does not plan to be back in Buffalo next season.
Eichel was heated about the way he was treated following his season ending injury, one that he chose to get a second opinion on after he did not like the conclusion of the doctors the team provided to him, and he went so far as to suggest that he felt disconnected from the team. What stood out even more than Eichel openly admitting he was upset with the team however were the words he threw in at the end of this quote, again the kind of words I would argue suggest he is done in Buffalo.
"I’ve been a bit upset about the ways things have been handled since I’ve been hurt," said Eichel on Monday. "There’s been a bit of a disconnect between myself and the organization. The most important thing now is to get healthy and be ready to play hockey next year, wherever that might be."
The "wherever that might be" really stands out here and it might very well be a dagger driven into the heart of the Buffalo Sabres fan base. The worst part here for the Sabres is that, despite giving Eichel a massive contract, there are very few fans outside of Buffalo who are going to blame Eichel for feeling this way. Not only has the leadership within the organization failed to build a winning team around him, but it would seem Eichel believes they have also put his personal health at risk or at the very least have not taken it nearly as seriously as they should.
There's no telling what will come of this, but I suspect that these comments will dominate the headlines in the NHL for days to come.