Holding it together
This is Jack Eichel’s first season as team captain and first under his $80 million contract. While the Sabres have slid badly, his play and leadership have not
While his Buffalo Sabres teammates filtered out of the visitors’ dressing room in Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night, Jack Eichel sat at his stall waiting for reporters to finish speaking with Jason Pominville. Eichel, the 22-year-old captain, has made himself available to the media all season, no matter the result. Since a 10-game win streak ended, Eichel has fielded questions about the team’s continued defensive lapses and a number of epic meltdowns. In addition, he has had to try to explain the Sabres’ inability to win consecutive games since Dec. 13.
The responsibility of leading a young team or answering post-game questions during trying times can wear on the NHL’s most experienced players, yet Eichel has continued to flourish on the ice.
“He’s a special player, a special person,” Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, an alternate captain, said following practice Wednesday. “He’s done a lot of really good things for this city and this organization. People tend to forget he’s only 22. He’s got a lot on his plate, a lot on his shoulders for a young guy. He’s handled it well. I think at times it’s been tough, but he brings his play every night – his effort, his attitude. He really wants to win.”
Eichel has done his part in trying to revive the Sabres. His 25 goals are one off from setting a career high, and he already has achieved his best totals in assists (47) and points (72) with 16 regular-season games to play.
He joined Rick Martin and Thomas Vanek as the only players in franchise history to score at least 20