Jack EichelHe didn't flinch when he returned to Buffalo on Thursday.
The Vegas Golden KnightsCenter played his first game against Sabres since he was traded to Vegas on November 4. He lost 3-1.
Eichel, 25, was Buffalo’s second overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He captained the team from 2018-21. The relationship ended last season and led to the trade.
Eichel was part of Vegas' starting line-up for the tilt. He received a lot of boos and applause from the crowd every time he touched a puck. The Sabres presented a tribute video for Eichel during the TV timeout. This video drew even more boos and applause from the season-high crowd, 12,437.
Eichel won the final word, however.
“It's one of the loudest places I've ever heard. After the game, Eichel stated that it was “really.” “It only took seven year and me leaving to allow them to get into this game. It was a lovely tribute. There were many people supporting me, and many others who were booing me. They might be booing my presence because they miss me, I don’t know.
Eichel wasn't the only one who was booed. Eichel was seen patrolling the ice at Keybank Center during Thursday's warmups. A few signs were placed along the Keybank Center boards welcoming him. They ranged in tone from upbeat, “Welcome Back Jack!” Eichel is a bit discontented. A fan also threw their Eichel Sabres sweater on the ice when the buzzer sounded.
A second twist: both players Buffalo received in the Eichel deal — Peyton Krebs Alex Tuch— Scored in the Sabres' win. Eichel finished the game minus-one with two goals in 17:31 TOI.
Eichel scored 139 goals and 355 assists in 375 games played with the Sabres. After being sidelined for several months due to a herniated disk in November, Eichel returned to Buffalo only 10 games into his stint with the Golden Knights. However, the center had a great start to Thursday with three goals and seven point.
Even though the end result was not what Eichel had in mind, he was happy to have that homecoming.
“I'm quite happy that it's over. He said, “Just move on.” “It's not an enjoyable game. It's not something I can say. It's frustrating. We wanted to win this game, but we didn’t.”
Eichel tried to keep his attention on the game. His video tribute featured footage of Eichel’s many charitable efforts, many of them involving the city’s youth. Eichel was not able to see this footage.
“I was trying to not watch it. He stated that he would take a second look at the video. “In a game situation I didn't want too emotional, especially when it involves some of my community activities, that hits home with us. But I appreciated the tribute and it was nice that some people were cheering for my cause.
In that video, Eichel might not have imagined the path he would take with the Sabres.
Midway through Eichel’s sixth year, things began to go sour between the player and team. After sustaining a neck injury while playing for Buffalo on March 7, 2021, Eichel was declared out of the league by the team with a herniated disk.
Eichel chose a procedure that had never been performed on an NHL player as his preferred treatment. Eichel, however, was the Sabres' star asset. He signed an eight-year $80million deal in 2018. The club refused to allow Eichel to undergo the procedure he requested, instead encouraging him to rest and rehabilitation.
Eichel was not happy with the impasse.
Eichel stated that he was upset at the way things were handled after he was hurt. I'd be lying if I said that things have been smooth since my injury. There has been some disconnect between me and the organization. It's been hard at times.”
The relationship was irreparable after training camp. Sabres' general manager Kevyn AdamsIt was announced in September that Eichel, who had not only been stripped of the Sabres captaincy but also failed his physical, would not be available to begin the season.
Adams did not rule out trading Eichel but took his time to make a deal. Buffalo was given forward Tuch, Krebs, and a draft pick in the first and second rounds.
Eichel received his disk replacement surgery at Rocky Mountain Spine Clinic Denver a week later. He made his Vegas debut on Feb. 17.