No stranger to voicing his displeasure with his own game and the play of his team, Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel said on Thursday that he was "fed up" with losing.
The Sabres, one of the seven teams not to qualify under the NHL's Return to Play 24-team playoff format, have now missed out on the postseason in all five years of Eichel's career and nine straight in total.
"Listen, I'm fed up with the losing and I'm fed up and I'm frustrated," Eichel said during a conference call with media. "You know, it's definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It's been a tough couple of months. It's been a tough five years with where things have [gone]. I'm a competitor. I want to win every time I'm on the ice. I want to win a Stanley Cup every time I start a season."
Eichel finishes his season with a career-high 36 goals and 42 assists in 68 games played. His 78 points were 10th among all scorers this season. The 23-year-old North Chelmsford, MA native credits his continued development to head coach Ralph Krueger, the third coach Eichel has had in his short career.
"I'd be lying if I said that I'm not getting frustrated with where things are going and I think we took a step this year, but I will say it's been a pleasure working with Ralph," Eichel said. "He does so much for our group every day. There are tough times and he does an amazing job of...narrowing our focus and getting us back to where we need to be mentally. And just the few times that I've spoken with him, you know, throughout this quarantine, whatever you want to call it, it's been good."
Eichel says he's already turned the page on 2019-20 and is ready for the next campaign, but acknowledges that the continued disappointment is weighing on him.
"You know, I've already started preparing for next season now," Eichel said. "I'm already back on the ice, I'm already training, I'm already doing things to try and better myself for the start of next season, whenever that is. But yeah, I'm definitely not in the greatest place with where the last little bit's [gone], and it's definitely worn on me."
On Tuesday, the team confirmed that general manager Jason Botterill would return for another season.