Ben Lepper ‘25
It’s hard not to feel bad for Jack Eichel. Normally I would just say that because he’s a member of the worst team in the NHL, but this year, there have been some absolutely heinous things that have happened to him. On March 7 of this year, Eichel hit his head on the boards during a game against the New York Islanders, and did not return to the ice for the entire season. He was diagnosed with a herniated disc, an injury that’s easy to recover from with surgery. Unfortunately, that’s where the debate lies.
Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres are not seeing eye to eye. While Eichel wants to fix his injury with disc-replacement surgery (in which the herniated disc is replaced with a device designed to mimic its movement), the Sabres aren’t okay with that and would rather he undergo a fusion surgery (in which two of his vertebrates would be permanently combined). Neither side is folding. In my opinion, this is utterly pathetic. If someone thinks a certain surgery is best for them, there should be nothing stopping them from getting it. Plus, if you’re the Buffalo Sabres, who are essentially a glorified AHL team at this point, you should be keeping your stars happy. It’s not like the replacement surgery doesn’t work, either – a statement issued by Eichel’s agent back in June said that the surgery Eichel wants would have him on the ice early in the next NHL season. However, according to Eichel, the Sabres hold a lot of cards on what he can and cannot do, which is why he hasn’t just gone and gotten it yet.
And then, on Thursday, Sept. 23, the story took another turn. It was announced that Eichel had failed his physical due to the herniated disc, and had the title of captain stripped away from him as a result. At this point, I just want him to be traded, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen either, as the Sabres have put up an unreal asking price for him. This is wrong on all fronts. The Sabres would rather watch their only notable player sit and rot on the bench instead of letting him get the surgery that he thinks is right for him. The incompetence coming from Buffalo is absolutely unfathomable. I haven’t seen this kind of mistreatment of a player, let alone a star player, in a long time. And, unfortunately for Eichel, he’s under contract until 2026, so he can’t just sit out a season and then test free agency. This man needs to be traded before Buffalo ruins him any more than they already have. It absolutely crushes me to see such an electric talent be brought down by blatant mistreatment.
Free Jack Eichel.