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Golden Knights Analysis

Can Jack Eichel Be Vegas’ Patrice Bergeron? Bruce Cassidy Hopes So



Can Jack Eichel reach elite levels for the Vegas Golden Knights?

For inspiration, look across the country. For nearly two decades, Patrice Bergeron has been the model figure of a two-way center. The Messier, King Clancy, and Stanley Cup winner has been nominated for the Selke Trophy as the league’s best two-way forward for the last 11 seasons and won five times.

Nobody with the Vegas Golden Knights knows more about Bergeron’s play than Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy, who coached him with the Boston Bruins from 2016 to 2022. Now coaching the Golden Knights, Cassidy wants to instill Bergeron’s two-way game his new centers, especially star Jack Eichel.

“Bergy (Patrice Bergeron) is always the benchmark. We have tried to compare and tell Jack (Eichel) what were are looking for…. he has been excellent and really bought into it. He’s getting pucks back so now he can play with it coming up with lots of speed and it has really helped his game,” said Cassidy.

In their time together in Boston, Bergeron and Cassidy never missed a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and made the Cup Finals in 2019, losing to Alex Pietrangelo and the St. Louis Blues.

Cassidy is looking to turn Boston native, John ‘Jack’ Eichel, into a 200-foot player like Bergeron. Someone who can win faceoffs, cover their matchups defensively, be slick on breakouts, and then generate offense at the other end. Over a decade younger than Bergeron, Eichel has impressed Cassidy with his speed.

“Our center icemen in our system have to cover a lot of ice and be willing to close quickly in the D-zone. He has been one of the best I have ever coached because of his first and second steps,” said Cassidy.

Offensively, there isn’t much concern with Eichel either. He’s currently riding a five-game point streak with six points in this time frame and was a big part in back-to-back overtime wins against the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals. Eichel currently has 14 points in 13 games played.

“I’ve seen lately he’s got more confidence. Usually, the skill guys, when they score and make plays, that is what happens… I think when the team is winning, and you’re one of the top-end players, and you are making plays to help win, you are naturally just going to become more confident,” said Cassidy.

Eichel was traded to Vegas in a blockbuster deal with the Buffalo Sabres now over a year ago. After having artificial disk replacement surgery to fix his neck, Eichel made his debut with the VGK last season. Now in his first 82-game season since 2018-19, Eichel is showing people why he deserves to be considered as one of the premier players in all of the league.

One of the most critical relationships in a sports franchise is that between the star player and the head coach. After the Golden Knights missed the playoffs in 2022, Cassidy and Eichel met in the summer of to go over their expectations for one another for 2022-23.

“I didn’t have any expectations other than ‘hey this is what I need out of you; what do you need out of me?’ We met in the summer, talked out that, and hoped he would stay healthy… now he is and we are seeing the player that he can be, and he is only going to get better,” said Cassidy.

The Golden Knights, as a unit, are off to their best start in franchise history. They are 11-2 and lead the league in points, fittingly ahead of the Bruins by two points. Riding a seven-game winning streak, they will play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. on the road.