The relationship between the Buffalo Sabres and star center Jack Eichel took another major hit on Thursday when the team announced that it would be stripping the 24-year-old of his captaincy. Franchise general manager Kevyn Adams shared the notable news on Thursday as the club and Eichel remains at odds over his recovery plan from a serious neck injury.
“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said, via ESPN. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”
Eichel has been out since March with a herniated disk in his neck and that same injury has been a major point of contention between him and the Sabres. The 24-year-old and the organization both have different visions for the All-Star's treatment and haven't been able to find a compromise in recent months.
Eichel did not pass his physical and is expected to be place on injured reserve to start the 2021-22 season. However, he's remained steadfast that he will not go forward with the fusion surgery that the Sabres' team doctors are suggesting.
The situation in Buffalo had already reached a head, so the news that Eichel is losing his captaincy is just the latest update in the souring relationship. NHL fans and media members took to Twitter to discuss the news, with many sympathizing with Eichel.
Eichel has also requested a trade away from the Sabres, but his current contract makes that a bit of a tall order for the organization. The three-time All-Star signed an eight-year, $80 million contract before the 2017-18 season and still has five years left on his deal. There's also no guarantee that Eichel will be able to find what he's looking for elsewhere in the NHL.
While the organization looks for possible solutions, the star center will stay in Buffalo and do his best to recover from the herniated disk.