The Jack Eichel Saga Continues
What Hasn’t Happened: We didn’t think we’d be here. We’re sure you didn’t, either. We wrote in an earlier Pregame Skate that if Jack Eichel was still a Sabre as of the start of NHL free agency July 28, that would be a loss for the Buffalo franchise.
We know what hasn’t transpired, and with training camp fast approaching and Eichel still very much a member of the Buffalo Sabres, we’ve gained some insight as to why.
Spoiler alert: none of it is good.
What Has Happened: The big news from late last week was that Jack Eichel is changing agents. The 24-year-old is moving on from Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli of Global Hockey Consultants and will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency. With the addition of Eichel, Brisson adds to his impressive client list, now representing five players making $10 million per season or more, plus Sydney Crosby, who earns less than that.
With Eichel’s dispute with the Sabres ongoing, this change speaks volumes. While the player has made it known he wants to play elsewhere, he’s still in Buffalo due to an ongoing disagreement about how to treat the herniated disc he has in his neck. Eichel wants surgery; the Sabres don’t believe that’s the best route, especially since the procedure Eichel wants has never been performed on an NHL player.
And here we are. Now his former representation, Fish and Donatelli released a statement back on July 30 indicating their anticipation of a trade happening prior to free agency starting. It seems a combination of no movement on the surgery or trade front led Eichel to make the change.
Outside of the saber rattling between the two sides, the disappointing news for all hockey fans is that we’re not going to get to see Jack Eichel play hockey any time soon.
Aside from Eichel and the Sabres, there’s a third side who desperately want to see a resolution: the NHL. Gary Bettman and the league can’t be thrilled with one of its premiere players sitting on the sidelines in what seemingly amounts to a battle of stubbornness.
Which leads us to….
A Big Secret Meeting: There was a somewhat secretive meeting in Buffalo around August 18. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in Canada revealed on a recent 31 Thoughts: The Podcast episode that there was a comprehensive meeting of all interested parties and that all respective cards were laid on the table.
Present at the meeting, according to Friedman, were: the League, the Player’s Association, the Sabres, Eichel, and Eichel’s now former agents. Friedman said he was unclear if Eichel’s independent doctors were also there.
Everyone said their piece. Everyone dug in. No resolution came of it.
Given this development, the change in agent makes a little more sense. Pat Brisson is a seasoned agent, but there’s a lot of noise to be turned down here. A resolution to the injury surely needs to be decided before trade talks resume — and the potential haul that will dictate the next half decade of Sabres hockey.
Saying Jack Eichel won’t play at the beginning of the season has moved from prediction to fact. As for when he might play, that’s anyone’s guess now.
How will the Eichel saga play out?
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