Former Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel returned to Buffalo, NY, Thursday night with his new team in the Vegas Golden Knights. This marked the first time Eichel had returned to Keybank Center as an opponent of the Buffalo Sabres since the early-November trade, which sent him to Las Vegas.
He was honored for his time in Buffalo with a video tribute during the first TV timeout of the game.
Eichel left the Sabres organization with more than a bit of a bad taste in his mouth. The Sabres prevented Eichel from having his preferred neck surgery for the entirety of the 2020-21 season. Eichel’s doctors and Sabres’ doctors disagreed on the procedure. The issue became contentious.
The rift led to Eichel requesting a trade, and the Sabres stripped him of his captaincy.
The Buffalo fans at KeyBank Center understandably had mixed opinions during Eichel’s tribute.
All medical controversies aside, Eichel was one of the most impactful electric players in Buffalo Sabres history. He was drafted in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft with the second overall pick, just behind Connor McDavid, and played six seasons with the Sabres.
Though he never made the playoffs with the Sabres, Eichel played in 375 career games and scored 355 points. Now with the Golden Knights, Eichel says there are no hard feelings between him and the Sabres.
“It obviously ended a little bit messy, but I hope they can look past some of the things that happened maybe in the last year and think about the previous five-and-a-half to six years that I was there and everything that I tried to do for the community,” Eichel told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.
— Owen Krepps (@OKrepps85) March 11, 2022