Sabres' Eichel thinks coming back to play from his injury is not controversial

Jack Eichel feels he should be questioned if he didn't try to come back

Paul Hamilton
March 20, 2018 - 1:35 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - A big topic of conversation surrounding Jack Eichel is, why is he playing? Many, and I mean many, fans have asked me why is he risking reinjuring his ankle by playing in a season where there are no playoffs.

I told Eichel I have been trying to explain it to fans as best as I can, but I am also not a NHL player so his words are going to mean a lot more than mine.

Eichel of course has heard the chatter too and he said, “It’s a bit frustrating for myself to get that question from people because it’s a pretty simple answer to be honest with you. I’m playing because I’m a hockey player.

“It’s kind of ridiculous for someone to think that the fact that we’re out of the playoffs and we don’t have the opportunity to really do anything with our season that I would just pack my year in. It’s not who I am as a person, it’s not who I have ever been and it’s not who I am as a hockey player.”

There’s no question at all that Eichel has a huge love for the game of hockey. He looks forward to games and everything that surrounds a game. Eichel said, “At the end of the day, I love to play hockey and whether we’re in first place or last place it doesn’t matter to me, I like to put my equipment on and go out there and play hockey. It’s what I look most forward to in my day because there’s no other feeling like it.

“We get to play a game that we love every day and I couldn’t be more fortunate to do it  and I felt like a kid on Christmas on Friday night just waiting to play on Saturday and the same thing for Sunday night, you wake up on Monday and you look forward to your game and you look forward to everything that goes into it, preparing yourself, the excitement, so I get excited for every game.”

As Eichel said, he wonders why folks are questioning why he’s playing. He actually thinks it should be the other way around, “I think there should be a lot more questions asked if I decided that I did want to pack it in and end my season.”

Eichel knew what was ahead of him after the injury because of the high ankle sprain he had last year. He said he approached the rehab with vigor, “I looked at my rehab process as if I was coming back to compete to try to get into the playoffs, so I tried to put myself in the best position to come back and impact this team in a positive way.

“That’s all just part of us building a culture around here and we should all want to be out there every night and that’s important.”

Many folks who don’t know the situation think Eichel came back too soon. He said he would not hurt his career to do that, “I think I did a good job of not rushing it. There’s a lot more hockey I hope to play in my career. The Sabres have some great resources here in trainers and the people that helped me get back to healthy, but these are conversations that you have with the doctor, you have with the trainers, you have with the people in your corner, your agents, your family and I did it just like anybody else would and at the end of the day, I’m not really risking anything at this point.”

Phil Housley only had a couple of the players skate on Tuesday as they get ready for Arizona on Wednesday. Many fans feel since this team is in last place in the NHL, they have nothing to play for. Johan Larsson is playing for his NHL life, either here or with another team. He said, “We’ve got a lot to play for. We’ve got to play for the fans, play for our teammates, coaches and to have some pride in the city and the logo on your chest.”

The Sabres have four games in six nights this week. That ends in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

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