Jack Eichel is ready for an ‘awkward” reunion of the Buffalo Sabres, but hopes for warm reception

Jack EichelHis return to Buffalo will be “awkward” he admits, but he doesn’t know what. SabresFans will react, but he hopes they can focus on the positives.

Eichel, the former Sabres captain said that he thinks about his time in Buffalo and it ended in a bit of a mess. He spoke to ESPN before his first game in Buffalo (7:05 p.m.). ET Thursday, ESPN+ Vegas Golden KnightsIn November. “But I hope…” [fans]Can we look beyond the recent events and consider the six years prior, five and a quarter, six that I was there. All that I did for this community, all that my hockey players gave, I can only say that I tried to do the best I could for the city.

Eichel, 25 was the No. The Sabres' No. 2 pick in 2015 was Eichel. He was in the middle an eight-year contract worth $80 million. In the midst of that contract, Eichel had a dispute with management about how to treat his herniated disc in his neck. Eichel was told by Sabres doctors that Eichel would have to undergo fusion surgery. Eichel, however, wanted to follow the advice of his second doctor and receive an artificial disc replacement surgery. This procedure had never been done on an NHL player. Each team has the final say in how injuries are treated under the NHL collective bargaining arrangement.

The Sabres stripped Eichel his captaincy, and made a deal with the Golden Knights. They allowed the center to have the artificial disk replacement surgery in October.

Eichel stated that he was in his driveway when Sabres general manger Kevyn Adams called to inform him of his captaincy's removal.

Eichel admitted that he was frustrated. “I was frustrated when you took away the captaincy,” Eichel said. You basically told me to not come to training camp. I felt as if they were playing games with me. “I was pretty done with it.”

Eichel stated that October was his lowest point, and November was the first NHL season without him. Eichel remained in Boston while he waited to be traded.

“I tried my best to remain patient and optimistic. [think]Something's going to occur, I'm going find some good news at some point. Eichel stated that it was then that I became in no man's place. I wasn't doing much. I was just trying to keep in the gym and to keep my ice skates rink-side. To be honest, I was just trying stay motivated. But it got to the stage where I didn’t have any clear direction and had no real purpose.

“I knew that no matter what, I still had to have surgery and I still had to undergo three months' of rehab. It would be a long time before my first game. … And watching the guys go back on the ice was what I wanted to do. If the process had been different, I feel like I could have been there.

Eichel, who was still skating one month after the surgery, made his debut for the Golden Knights in Feb. Eichel would have been out of commission for at most six months if he hadn't had the fusion surgery.

Eichel was operated on three weeks later. Chicago Blackhawkscenter Tyler JohnsonThe second time in league history that a neck ADR was performed on a player. Johnson and Eichel have an agent. Eichel researched so extensively throughout the process, that Johnson was able to understand a lot of details via the phone.

Eichel stated that he believes he was an example of someone who stood up for what he or she believed was best for him. “I mean, there was a player in baseball who was the first to get a Tommy John. This will hopefully open up new avenues for players to deal avec an injury.

Eichel admitted that he's not feeling 100% but is slowly getting there. The center has had three goals and four assists in 10 games against the Golden Knights. This includes his first signature moment, scoring a goal with just 5.2 seconds to go for a 2-1 win. Ottawa SenatorsSunday

“I hope…” [fans]Can we look beyond the recent events and consider the six years prior, five and a quarter, six that I was there. All that I tried for the community, all that my hockey players put forth, I can only say that I did everything I could to make the city a better place.

Jack Eichel is ready for an 'awkward" reunion of the Buffalo Sabres, but hopes for warm reception

Jack Eichel in Buffalo, his first game since leaving the Sabres

Eichel was able to find success in Buffalo scoring 139 goals, 355 points and all the while the team continued to struggle. The Sabres are currently in the longest postseason drought of the NHL. Eichel had four head coaches in Buffalo and three general managers.

Eichel stated, “The constant filtering in of coaches and general managers wore me out. I'm sure it wore out a lot of other guys.” It's not an easy task. It was hard to feel the pressure and desire to succeed. It can take a toll on your ability to achieve that.

Eichel stated that he was looking forward to possibly playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring.

They don't set the standard for making it to the playoffs. Eichel spoke of the Golden Knights, saying that they don't set a goal to win the division. Eichel said that the Golden Knights set the standard for winning the Stanley Cup. “Everyone around here — from the medical team to the equipment guys — is on the same page. They know that that's the goal at the end. They do everything to make sure you win, perform well, and have fun playing hockey. You can't ask them for more.

Eichel stated that if the Sabres had allowed him to have any type of surgery, he was still not certain where he'd be playing.

Eichel stated, “I believe things in Buffalo have changed quite a bit over this past year.” “And so, I can't really tell if I'd still be there. It seemed like they were moving quite a few guys out. I believe there are only a handful of the guys I was with at the start that are still there. They have had a great turnover, they have many really good players, and they have a lot more nice pieces in their organisation. I don't know where else I would be.

“It would have probably been nice if the surgery was done sooner. I could then have a full camp. I'd also be playing the entire season. However, everything happens for a reason. I couldn’t be happier with where I am.”

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