The ongoing stalemate between star centerman Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres has quieted down a little in recent weeks, at least in terms of the media coverage it has been receiving, but a recent article from the Buffalo News has reignited the conversation.
From the outside looking in it is easy to see this as a simple dispute between one player and his specific organization, but in reality there are many more layers once you begin to dig a little deeper. The reality is that many teams in the NHL are no doubt quietly rooting for the Buffalo Sabres to stand firm on this matter, given that they have that right as per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the players and the owners, and I suspect that the same can be said of the players who no doubt support Eichel's stance on this issue.
On Friday we were given an example of exactly that when Las Vegas Golden Knights' goaltender Robin Lehner decided to toss an opinion of his own into the conversation. Lehner, who has himself spent time in Buffalo as a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization, took to social media to express his thoughts on the current standoff between his former team and Eichel and I think it's safe to suggest that he wasn't very happy about the way things have been handled. Lehner fired shots at the National Hockey League Players Association, the players themselves for remaining quiet on this issue, and the journalists that he clearly feels have been unfair to Eichel during this fiasco. Lehner did not explicitly mention the Sabres themselves, but his comments about a person's freedom of choice were clearly directed at his former team.
"Where is the NHLPA and all nhl players in all this attacks on our freedom of choice?" asked Lehner via his Twitter. "Jack situation is crazy to me.. also people getting attacked by journalist that hides behind freedom of speech to trash peoples freedom of choice. When does the hypocrisy end?"
I suspect I know which journalist Lehner is referring to here but without him naming the person explicitly I can't confirm it 100%. Needless to say though the often outspoken netminder has decided to break his silence on this topic, and I suspect that we will be hearing more from him on the matter if the situation between Eichel and the Sabres continues to deteriorate.