Dreger Café: 'It's been a tough five years' - Eichel on voicing his frustration to management
Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has not been shy about voicing his frustration in the past, but the 24-year-old praised the team for their off-season moves on Tuesday.
Under new general manager Kevyn Adams, the Sabres added Taylor Hall and Cody Eakin in free agency and acquired veteran centre Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild this fall after missing out on the NHL's Return to Play in August.
"We're really excited," Eichel told NHL.com. "They're great moves from management in the offseason. Now, more than anything at this point, you want to get back to playing.
"I think it's great. I think it definitely sparked some excitement in me and other guys in the room."
Eichel's comments come two months after his agent, Peter Fish, told TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie that, despite trade rumours, the centre did not want out of Buffalo.
“I hear that (trade talk) a lot,” Fish said in September. “Jack wants to win, he’s frustrated (not winning) but, no, he doesn’t want out. Jack is preparing to head to Buffalo at some point here and prepare for the season, whenever that may be. That’s all he controls.”
Eichel, who has never reached the playoffs in his five-year career, had a career-high 36 goals and posted 78 points in 68 games last season. The Sabres finished with .493 win percentage and lost out to the Montreal Canadiens (.500) for the final Return to Play spot.
"Listen, I'm fed up with the losing and I'm fed up and I'm frustrated," Eichel said in May after the Return to Play format was announced. "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."
Buffalo is currently in the midst of a nine-year playoff drought and haven't won a postseason series since reaching the Eastern Conference final in 2007.
"Whenever you can add people like Taylor Hall and Eric Staal and Cody Eakin to your roster and the locker room, they not only bring talent to the ice but also veteran presence to the locker room," Eichel said Tuesday. "In a situation like ours where we're trying to find a winning culture with a young group and trying to figure out the right way to do things at times, I think having older guys can help you out especially during periods of adversity.