Columnists, Hockey, Ice Hockey, Sports

Off the Post: Jack Eichel is finally free

Jack Eichel is finally free. After the nearly year-long saga with his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, the Boston University hockey legend is packing his bags for Las Vegas. Set to receive artificial disk replacement surgery this Friday, Eichel is ready to start the next chapter of his career.

To sum up the past eight months, Eichel injured his neck on March 7 in a game against the New York Islanders. The Sabres organization and their captain disagreed on his course of treatment, sidelining Eichel for the remainder of the season until surgery could be settled on. 

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

Coming into the 2021-22 campaign, Eichel failed his physical at Buffalo’s training camp — for obvious reasons — and was stripped of his captaincy. It became clear that the All-Star center and the Sabres were not going to reach a solution and a trade was the inevitable ending to the sour situation. 

On Nov. 4, Eichel was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for two conditional draft picks, Peyton Krebs and Boston College alum Alex Tuch. The Golden Knights agreed to allow Eichel to proceed with the surgery of his choice and will wait for him to officially join the roster in the coming months. 

Exciting would be an understatement for how this deal pans out for Eichel. Not only is he now able to receive the medical treatment of his choice, but he’s going to be a core part of a seriously competitive hockey team. 

I’m sure it was an honor for Eichel to get to captain the Sabres team at such a young age and be the face of an entire organization. But let’s be honest, Buffalo is absolutely brutal — and I’m just talking about their hockey. 

As one of the top five talents in the league, Eichel has yet to see the playoffs, let alone a season above .500. He has skated with the burden of carrying his team on his back since his entry into the NHL in 2015. 

Now, he has the opportunity to play on what’s speculated to become the next best power line in the league, comprised of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Eichel himself. Although a recently formed expansion team, Vegas has made its mark since its founding, consistently proving to be a leading group in the NHL, and can provide a type of talented support that Eichel has never had. 

Beyond the stats, drama and business deals of the Eichel storyline, it’s simply good for hockey to get this guy back on the ice. Eichel said it himself in his interview with “Spittin’ Chiclets” — the worst part about this entire thing was that he couldn’t play the sport he loves. 

The 25-year-old centerman’s natural genius on skates is a gift to watch for both fans and players alike. It’s guys like him that move the game forward, heighten expectations and redefine greatness in the modern-day NHL. 

It’s a shame he had to trudge through a dark eight months to get the care he deserves, but now that he has, Eichel can just get back to playing hockey, and there’s nothing better than that for an athlete of his caliber. 

Following his long-awaited surgery, Eichel has around a three-month recovery period before he can hit the ice in a Vegas black-and-gold jersey. His debut as a Golden Knight and return to the NHL stage is no doubt a highly anticipated event for hockey fans everywhere. 

Comments are closed.