On Thursday night, Jack Eichel made his highly anticipated return to Buffalo, a team in which he spent the first five and a half years of his career with.
The 25-year-old, who is now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights, had a messy split with the Sabres after he and the team had differing opinions on what type of surgery he should undergo to repair a herniated disc in his neck. That difference of opinion ultimately led to him being dealt back in November, and for the first time on Thursday he was able to face his former team.
A day prior to the game, Eichel told reporters that he had no bitterness towards the organization despite how things ended. He also said he hoped that Sabres fans would look past his final few months with the team and instead remember how hard he played for them over his five and a half seasons. That wasn’t the case, however, as fans booed him plenty and often throughout the entire game, including during a tribute video he got during the first period.
Unfortunately, he and his Golden Knights teammates weren’t able to get the last laugh, as they went on to lose by a 3-1 final. To make matters even worse, both roster players Eichel got traded for in Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs were able to find the back of the net. After the game, a sour Eichel wasn’t shy about taking a shot at the Sabres crowd.
“That’s about the loudest I’ve heard this place ever,” Eichel scoffed. “Really. It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game. But you know, it was a nice tribute.”
“There were plenty of people here who were supporting me, and there was plenty of people here who were booing me. They must just be booing me because they wish I was still here. It is what it is, I’m not the first guy to deal with it, so just move on. It was a tough game. Give them credit, they played hard.”
Those comments quickly blew up after the game, and will likely continue to be talked about for days ahead. It is clear that, despite saying he has no bitterness toward the organization on Wednesday, Jack Eichel is still not pleased with the way things ended in his return to Buffalo. Both he and his teammates will need to have a short memory after the frustrating loss, as they get set to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night.
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