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Was Jack Eichel acting, or reacting?


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Three days later, the entire hockey world has convinced itself Jack Eichel used Media Day to drop a bomb on the Buffalo Sabres, basically telling the world without actually saying it that he wants out.

But what if that isn’t what actually happened?

Bear with me here.

Consider the mindset of an elite athlete, best of the best. Someone whose entire life has taught him that he’s invulnerable, a winner, an inevitable success story. Special.

Consider the mindset of Jack Eichel entering this season. You are coming off your best year, your game is in order. At times you’ve almost questioned yourself given the Sabres’ ineptitude, but you know it’s actually been the organization, and the supporting cast. The results haven’t been there yet, but you love the coach. You believe in him. And the new GM has brought in a Stanley Cup winner to back you up on the second line, some tested vets to improve the PK and a former MVP to ride shotgun on your line. This time it’s going to work.

But it doesn’t. 

Right from the get-go your game is off: sluggish, out of sync. When you look honestly into the mirror, it tells you that you suck. You don’t recognize what you see. Yes, you are carrying some injuries, but they aren’t enough to stop you from playing. You are Jack Eichel. Nothing stops you. Your coach, your guru, has no answers - for your struggles or his own. For maybe the first time in your life, you start to question yourself. “This is me not pulling my weight. This is me holding us back. This is my fault.”

And then you get really hurt. Not aches and pains hurt, not a give-it-a-month playground hurt. But a real injury, an adult injury, one that is not easily tackled by surgery or busting your butt in rehab. One that requires you to be patient and to wait. You don’t like to wait. You are stallion, you attack, you charge. 

But the doctors want to keep you in the stable.

You chafe. Sitting apart from your tribe and your passion during a pandemic, you start to consider the long-term consequences of a spinal cord injury. For maybe the first time ever you ponder the possibility of a world where you are not a world-class hockey player destined to adorn halls of fame and Stanley Cup legendariums. And you get restless. You get scared.

You pour your being into researching your condition and you find a type of disc replacement surgery that has worked with MMA fighters. It can fix the problem and get you back into rehab in a matter of weeks. You can be ready to be prime Jack Eichel in the fall, to reclaim your birthright. You start to obsess. Action. It’s what you crave. It’s what you need to reclaim your identity in a season that has mercilessly stripped it away.

You march into your season-ending meeting with the GM and you lay this all out on the table. “This is what I want to do, and I want to do it now.” Kevyn Adams listens politely. “I hear you, but the doctors said we were going to  give it three months and that is what we’re going to do. We’ll talk in June.

You aren’t used to “no.” And you especially aren’t used to it in the context of something so precious, something that means so much.

And, as you try to process, Adams takes control. He wants to have “an honest, hard conversation.”

“Jack we have to fix this. We know you had a tough season, and we know there are reasons, but we need you to be better. We need to get better. We have to figure out who is going to bleed blue and gold every single day, and who is not. We are going to look at anything and everything, and that includes possibly trading away pieces of our core. That even includes considering trading you. I can’t predict what is going to happen, but there will be changes.”

They march you out to meet the media.

Consider that back story. Sit down and watch the tape again.

Tell me what you see.

Edited by dudacek
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16 minutes ago, dudacek said:

You pour your being into researching your condition and you find a type of disc replacement surgery that has worked with MMA fighters. It can fix the problem and get you back into rehab in a matter of weeks. You can be ready to be prime Jack Eichel in the fall, to reclaim your birthright. You start to obsess. Action. It’s what you crave. It’s what you need to reclaim you identity in a season that has mercilessly stripped it away.

Quite the scenario you came up with there but I want to highlight just this one part.

So you're saying, what if the Sabres doctors said one thing, but Jack kept googling another option and then brought it in and insisted upon it because he's such a wild and passionate guy or something like that? 

One, while he might have gotten a second medical opinion I cannot picture him researching and obsessing. Maybe his ego is big enough to view things in terms of "birthright" , but that would in and of itself speak volumes as to the problem with this team these years. 

So, I don't believe any of that proposed narrative is even the remotest possibility, but that's just opinion like yours. 

In any event, to me it doesn't matter. This would still be all about Jack, and that is imo what has to end for this team to have even the slightest chance of future success. 

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I see someone who is sick of losing and is also upset that their beloved head coach was fired. A player who essentially was involved with major decisions in the past and has now not gotten his way twice in a row. I don’t think for one minute this is truly and solely about the surgery, though it is part of it. 
 

But to the OPs point, his theory is certainly possible as I could picture KA saying those things. It fits the narrative. If that were true, and Jack spun it to be about the surgery, that would be pretty grimey.

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Jack has never been told no by this organization. He's been the king since day 1, without really earning it. "Jack needs to look out for Jack" is the perfect quote I'll remember him by during his time here. It was always about him, never about the Sabres.

 

I've made peace with trading Eichel. I was considering it well before Monday anyways.

You have to get a premium asset back though. No Turcottes, Kakko's, mid-1sts.

Zegras, Byfield, Lafreniere, Krebs. Get one in a package, and move on with that.

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4 minutes ago, North Buffalo said:

He reminds me of Stamkos a few years back before injuries. made him appreciate hockey...

Interesting comparison.  I can see that as well.

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@dudacek— what a great OP.

I can absolutely see this scenario playing out.  Certainly it’s true that:

- Jack has been superhuman at hockey his entire life.

- Jack is well familiar with hockey injuries and overcoming them.

- Jack was unable to do so this year for the 1st time in his life.

- Jack knows spinal injuries are a scary and uncertain thing.

- Jack loved RK but saw him unable to right the ship.

- This was a difficult, lonely and sad year for everyone, and much worse than that for many people.

That’s a pretty combustible brew of ingredients.  It wouldn’t be at all surprising for a hard-charging maniac in that situation to grab onto something like a cutting-edge new surgical procedure and convince himself that it’s the key to his return to form, and to be PO’d at someone who got in his way.

Maybe cooler heads will prevail.  

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Good post. This is definitely the logical partner to my thoughts from yesterday regarding how weird the whole situation feels. 

It's distinctly possible that this whole thing blows over. I'm not able to see myself agreeing with the people who think Jack is as good as gone, because I think things would make a lot more sense if that's where we are headed. 

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I think you have a 24 entitled kid that wants what he wants and anything that is not that is a disconnect. I honestly believe the Buffalo Sabres are doing the right thing and trying to protect their asset, which is Eichel. Eichel can "posture" and say what he wants, which Adams acknowledged, but when push comes to shove, the Sabres hold the cards here. If anything Eichel should be quiet and wait until next year when his NMC kicks in. I still believe Eichel is an asset to the Sabres, But, if Adams decides it is time to move on from the the "Losing Crew" of Eichel, Sam and Risto, then I am all in and he should rake the most of what we can get which would still help this team if done right. 

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7 hours ago, dudacek said:

Three days later, the entire hockey world has convinced itself Jack Eichel used Media Day to drop a bomb on the Buffalo Sabres, basically telling the world without actually saying it that he wants out.

But what if that isn’t what actually happened?

Bear with me here.

Consider the mindset of an elite athlete, best of the best. Someone whose entire life has taught him that he’s invulnerable, a winner, an inevitable success story. Special.

Consider the mindset of Jack Eichel entering this season. You are coming off your best year, your game is in order. At times you’ve almost questioned yourself given the Sabres’ ineptitude, but you know it’s actually been the organization, and the supporting cast. The results haven’t been there yet, but you love the coach. You believe in him. And the new GM has brought in a Stanley Cup winner to back you up on the second line, some tested vets to improve the PK and a former MVP to ride shotgun on your line. This time it’s going to work.

But it doesn’t. 

Right from the get-go your game is off: sluggish, out of sync. When you look honestly into the mirror, it tells you that you suck. You don’t recognize what you see. Yes, you are carrying some injuries, but they aren’t enough to stop you from playing. You are Jack Eichel. Nothing stops you. Your coach, your guru, has no answers - for your struggles or his own. For maybe the first time in your life, you start to question yourself. “This is me not pulling my weight. This is me holding us back. This is my fault.”

And then you get really hurt. Not aches and pains hurt, not a give-it-month playground hurt. But a real injury, an adult injury, one that is not easily tackled by surgery or busting your butt in rehab. One that requires you to be patient and to wait. You don’t like to wait. You are stallion, you attack, you charge. 

But the doctors want to keep you in the stable.

You chafe. Sitting apart from your tribe and your passion during a pandemic, you start to consider the long-term consequences of a spinal cord injury. For maybe the first time ever you ponder the possibility of a world where you are not a world-class hockey player destined to adorn halls of fame and Stanley Cup legendariums. And you get restless. You get scared.

You pour your being into researching your condition and you find a type of disc replacement surgery that has worked with MMA fighters. It can fix the problem and get you back into rehab in a matter of weeks. You can be ready to be prime Jack Eichel in the fall, to reclaim your birthright. You start to obsess. Action. It’s what you crave. It’s what you need to reclaim you identity in a season that has mercilessly stripped it away.

You march into your season-ending meeting with the GM and you lay this all out on the table. “This is what I want to do, and I want to do it now.” Kevyn Adams listens politely. “I hear you, but the doctors said we were going to  give it three months and that is what we’re going to do. We’ll talk in June.

You aren’t used to “no.” And you especially aren’t used to it in the context of something so precious, something that means so much.

And, as you try to process, Adams takes control. He wants to have “an honest, hard conversation.”

“Jack we have to fix this. We know you had a tough season, and we know there are reasons, but we need you to be better. We need to get better. We have to figure out who is going to bleed blue and gold every single day, and who is not. We are going to look at anything and everything, and that includes possibly trading away pieces of our core. That even includes considering trading you. I can’t predict what is going to happen, but there will be changes.”

They march you out to meet the media.

Consider that back story. Sit down and watch the tape again.

Tell me what you see.

I see a 24 year old “veteran” that is burdened by his role on a team that has been incompetently managed for a very long time.  
 

I see a 24 year old “star” that is not happy with his own performance or with the constant losing.  
 

I see a 24 year old athlete that wants a fresh start.  

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3 minutes ago, Pimlach said:

I see a 24 year old “veteran” that is burdened by his role on a team that has been incompetently managed for a very long time.  
 

I see a 24 year old “star” that is not happy with his own performance or with the constant losing.  
 

I see a 24 year old athlete that wants a fresh start.  

All the points you made are valid. But the bigger issue consuming this passionate player is his challenging health situation. The one description that can't be applied to Jack is being complacent. He is a workout warrior in the offseason. He trains to the max. Maybe to the point that he is hurting himself? Now he is in a situation where because of his health status the game has been taken away from him. You don't think that being forced to be a spectator is crushing him? Not being able to play in games is bad enough but he has a number of lingering injuries that call for him to dramatically limit his physical activity all together. Let's not forget that not only does he have the neck and disc injury to deal with but he has had to deal with a stubborn abdominal injury from a prior season that seems resistant to healing.

I agree with the organization's more conservative and cautionary approach to Jack's injury. It is recommended by the medical experts and grounded on "best practices" for that type of injury. However, it's not too difficult to understand Jack's frustration and to an extent lashing out. The best thing to do is for all the parties to step back and wait and see how the medical issue plays out. That's not easy to do in this hyper-volatile media environment.   

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Great post. Truly. I love this kind of stuff, but the "fan fiction" is starting to make my head hurt. (Yes, I acknowledge it has been one of my stock-in-trades here.)

There's just too much we don't know. I feel a little like Bulldog yesterday when he had to stop and admit on the radio he couldn't wrap his mind around a theory Hamilton was offering (but not endorsing): that Eichel's real motive was preventing the Sabres from trading him now so that his NMC would kick in before he can get traded).

I'll admit that Jack's "wherever that may be" comment takes on a new light if Adams brought up the possibility of a trade. Then we're into jilted lover territory.

Of course we don't know Kevyn said that. All we do know for sure is that a soft tap on the door interrupted the chat, and Kim peeked inside and asked Jack to join her and Terry in the janitor's closet. The sharp tapping of stiletto heels on the hard-floored hallway as she slinked away hastened Jack's pulse.

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9 hours ago, dudacek said:

Three days later, the entire hockey world has convinced itself Jack Eichel used Media Day to drop a bomb on the Buffalo Sabres, basically telling the world without actually saying it that he wants out.

But what if that isn’t what actually happened?

Bear with me here.

Consider the mindset of an elite athlete, best of the best. Someone whose entire life has taught him that he’s invulnerable, a winner, an inevitable success story. Special.

Consider the mindset of Jack Eichel entering this season. You are coming off your best year, your game is in order. At times you’ve almost questioned yourself given the Sabres’ ineptitude, but you know it’s actually been the organization, and the supporting cast. The results haven’t been there yet, but you love the coach. You believe in him. And the new GM has brought in a Stanley Cup winner to back you up on the second line, some tested vets to improve the PK and a former MVP to ride shotgun on your line. This time it’s going to work.

But it doesn’t. 

Right from the get-go your game is off: sluggish, out of sync. When you look honestly into the mirror, it tells you that you suck. You don’t recognize what you see. Yes, you are carrying some injuries, but they aren’t enough to stop you from playing. You are Jack Eichel. Nothing stops you. Your coach, your guru, has no answers - for your struggles or his own. For maybe the first time in your life, you start to question yourself. “This is me not pulling my weight. This is me holding us back. This is my fault.”

And then you get really hurt. Not aches and pains hurt, not a give-it-a-month playground hurt. But a real injury, an adult injury, one that is not easily tackled by surgery or busting your butt in rehab. One that requires you to be patient and to wait. You don’t like to wait. You are stallion, you attack, you charge. 

But the doctors want to keep you in the stable.

You chafe. Sitting apart from your tribe and your passion during a pandemic, you start to consider the long-term consequences of a spinal cord injury. For maybe the first time ever you ponder the possibility of a world where you are not a world-class hockey player destined to adorn halls of fame and Stanley Cup legendariums. And you get restless. You get scared.

You pour your being into researching your condition and you find a type of disc replacement surgery that has worked with MMA fighters. It can fix the problem and get you back into rehab in a matter of weeks. You can be ready to be prime Jack Eichel in the fall, to reclaim your birthright. You start to obsess. Action. It’s what you crave. It’s what you need to reclaim your identity in a season that has mercilessly stripped it away.

You march into your season-ending meeting with the GM and you lay this all out on the table. “This is what I want to do, and I want to do it now.” Kevyn Adams listens politely. “I hear you, but the doctors said we were going to  give it three months and that is what we’re going to do. We’ll talk in June.

You aren’t used to “no.” And you especially aren’t used to it in the context of something so precious, something that means so much.

And, as you try to process, Adams takes control. He wants to have “an honest, hard conversation.”

“Jack we have to fix this. We know you had a tough season, and we know there are reasons, but we need you to be better. We need to get better. We have to figure out who is going to bleed blue and gold every single day, and who is not. We are going to look at anything and everything, and that includes possibly trading away pieces of our core. That even includes considering trading you. I can’t predict what is going to happen, but there will be changes.”

They march you out to meet the media.

Consider that back story. Sit down and watch the tape again.

Tell me what you see.

Thanks for stating something I've been speculating about in a much better way.  

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1 hour ago, PASabreFan said:

Great post. Truly. I love this kind of stuff, but the "fan fiction" is starting to make my head hurt. (Yes, I acknowledge it has been one of my stock-in-trades here.)

There's just too much we don't know. I feel a little like Bulldog yesterday when he had to stop and admit on the radio he couldn't wrap his mind around a theory Hamilton was offering (but not endorsing): that Eichel's real motive was preventing the Sabres from trading him now so that his NMC would kick in before he can get traded).

I'll admit that Jack's "wherever that may be" comment takes on a new light if Adams brought up the possibility of a trade. Then we're into jilted lover territory.

Of course we don't know Kevyn said that. All we do know for sure is that a soft tap on the door interrupted the chat, and Kim peeked inside and asked Jack to join her and Terry in the janitor's closet. The sharp tapping of stiletto heels on the hard-floored hallway as she slinked away hastened Jack's pulse.

If they keep Jack, they absolutely HAVE to get the on-ice product right next season. That Hamilton theory sounds a little too plausible for my liking. 

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Also @dudacek great post. 

I guess if it was more Adams initiated, that would fit with the news that Eichel has not made a formal trade request. 

god help us if this was just a big media creation by canadian media, that Adams bought into on some level 

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The odd thing to me is that according to Adams, the 2nd opinion that Eichel got concurred with the team doctors, so why the disconnect.  At it's most innocent, it's Eichel just really pissed after the crappiest season ever, or he's laying down his position now that leads to him asking to be traded.

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On 5/13/2021 at 1:40 AM, PerreaultForever said:

Quite the scenario you came up with there but I want to highlight just this one part.

So you're saying, what if the Sabres doctors said one thing, but Jack kept googling another option and then brought it in and insisted upon it because he's such a wild and passionate guy or something like that? 

One, while he might have gotten a second medical opinion I cannot picture him researching and obsessing. Maybe his ego is big enough to view things in terms of "birthright" , but that would in and of itself speak volumes as to the problem with this team these years. 

So, I don't believe any of that proposed narrative is even the remotest possibility, but that's just opinion like yours. 

In any event, to me it doesn't matter. This would still be all about Jack, and that is imo what has to end for this team to have even the slightest chance of future success. 

Agree!  that type of selfishness, me first has to go. No matter how great you think you are this is not basketball....it’s hockey and it is a team sport. Buffalo fans deserve better.

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11 hours ago, klos1963 said:

The odd thing to me is that according to Adams, the 2nd opinion that Eichel got concurred with the team doctors, so why the disconnect.  At it's most innocent, it's Eichel just really pissed after the crappiest season ever, or he's laying down his position now that leads to him asking to be traded.

IMHO, it's because the surgery offers more immediate relief.  That seems to be the most innocent explanation.

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3 minutes ago, Marvin, Sabres Fan said:

IMHO, it's because the surgery offers more immediate relief.  That seems to be the most innocent explanation.

Agree 100 %. Jack seems to inherently be a risk-taker and an "I want it now" type of personality.

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58 minutes ago, Marvin, Sabres Fan said:

IMHO, it's because the surgery offers more immediate relief.  That seems to be the most innocent explanation.

I get that, but does he even have a doctor that suggests surgery? That's where I'm confused, again, the 2nd opinion he got agreed with the Sabres medical staff.

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11 minutes ago, klos1963 said:

I get that, but does he even have a doctor that suggests surgery? That's where I'm confused, again, the 2nd opinion he got agreed with the Sabres medical staff.

Pretty sure that was actually the 3rd opinion.  He certainly has some expert(s) supporting his view that he should get the ADR.  He actually mentioned that's he's spoken to MANY doctors.

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My guess is that it's probably true that Eichel prefers surgery, but his fractured relationship with the Sabres is what has him dug in on it, so adamantly. 

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