Sabres' Eichel ready to help turn this franchise around

Jack Eichel is excited about all the changes since April

Paul Hamilton
August 22, 2018 - 1:52 pm

Photo: Paul Hamilton (@pham1717)

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jack Eichel is back in town and was skating with three of his teammates on Wednesday at HarborCenter.

The Sabres have nine new players coming in this season and 10 have left. That means there’s a big change in the locker room and I could just tell by talking to Eichel that he’s excited for this season, “It’s good to be back here, I’m pretty excited to be playing again, so it’s been a long summer, a lot to think about and I’m just excited for another season.”

Before Eichel left in April, he knew there would be changes and obviously there were. He said he wasn’t surprised there will be eight or nine new teammates in the room, “I think when you have as little success as we had last year, change is expected and I think it’s for the better.

“You bring some fresh faces in, some guys that don’t have the sour taste of the last few years and it seems like the environment is different.”

Some of the new veterans include Carter Hutton, Conor Sheary, Jeff Skinner, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sabotka and Matt Hunwick. Eichel thinks that’s great, “Sure. You have guys that have been around the league for a bit, guys that have played playoff games and you’ve got a guy that has won a couple of Stanley Cups and has played with two of the best players in the world, so I think we can learn a lot from them.”

Eichel was right with the fans watching the NHL Draft Lottery in late April. Eichel was ecstatic when he saw the Sabres logo turned around, “It was huge, a great moment for our team. We get a franchise defenseman who is a special player, a really good guy and somebody that is going to be part of our team for awhile.”

Can just winning a Draft Lottery excite the fan base? Eichel believes it can, “Fans were down on us and rightfully so, we didn’t perform, so it’s a fresh change for a lot of people and probably a good one.”

Being the second overall pick in 2015, Eichel knows exactly what Dahlin is going to deal with this season. Eichel said he will be there for the 18-year-old, “The hockey part is the easiest aspect that he’ll go through, but the things that might take a little bit of an adjustment is living over here in America, but there are a lot of guys over here that are willing to help, so I’ll just try to be there for him as much as possible, so he’ll go through it all, but it’s good to have guys that he can lean on.”

Eichel said he’s been to dinner with Dahlin and hung out with him in the locker room.

Some were surprised that Ryan O’Reilly was traded while others expected it. Eichel wasn’t at all shocked, “No, I don’t think anything surprises me after the season we had last year, so whenever you have a so little success as we did, people start looking around the room for changes to be made and Ryan was a big part of our team and a good friend of mine and a good friend of a lot of guys on this team, but that’s part of the business, we made some changes that can better our team.

“It’s tough to see him go, he’s a good guy, but we have to move on, he’s not coming back and we have a lot of new guys that can step in.”

I’ve watched Eichel on the ice for three years and he is not afraid of hard work. Phil Housley told the players to be ready in September, because training camp will be tough. Eichel is all for that, “I think it’s good, you don’t want to get out of the gate slow, so it’s important that we’re well conditioned and ready to play, so the harder the camp, the better for us. I think it’ll make the season easier that way we start off on the right foot.”  

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