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

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - By Lance Lysowski

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

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