BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Sabres fans weren’t offered much information or comfort Thursday in regard to the status of frustrated star Jack Eichel during Don Granato’s first press conference as full-time head coach.
General manager Kevyn Adams would only go as far as revealing he “spent a long time on the phone” with Eichel’s agent Wednesday, calling it a “great conversation.” But he added that the organization’s stance “hasn’t changed” in regard to the treatment of Eichel’s injury.
Eichel continues to be a hot name in trade talks, with the New York Post reporting this week that the Rangers have inquired with the Sabres about the 24-year-old star. Several other teams have been involved in Eichel rumors, including the Ducks, Kings and Blue Jackets.
Eichel’s agent responded to The Athletic about Adams’ comments, saying: “We have definitely been communicating with the team and we are heading towards a resolution.”
Eichel suffered a herniated disk in his neck last season. The team’s doctors believe the injury can be treated with rest and rehab, but Eichel wants to have a surgery Adams said has never been done on an NHL player before.
“I’ve been a bit upset about the way that things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Eichel said in May. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. I think that there’s been a bit of a disconnect I think from the organization a bit and myself.”
“And all of the doctors involved agreed on a conservative approach,” Adams said two days after Eichel’s comments. “So what we were discussing and what was mentioned to me and those of us in the organization that were involved was that typically, in this situation and in their experience, there’s a high probability that through a conservative rehab approach you are able to avoid surgery and you are able to come back and perform at the top of your game.”
One positive takeaway for fans from the news conference was Granato’s belief in instilling a winning mindset in his club that finished in last place. He said he saw progress in the team’s self-evaluation last season and believes continuing to grow in that area will lead to results on the ice.
“To me, there were lots of signs of real strong potential, or strong signs of the actual potential that’s there. It’s just continually moving them in the direction, in many areas, we saw through the better parts of last season,” Granato said. “The big one is finding a way to win. I always talk about, ‘don’t wait to win.’ You think about the teams in the Stanley Cup Final (the Lightning and Canadiens). There’s one surprise team in there, I would imagine to a lot of people.
“For us, we can’t wait to win. Every single night you lace up your skates, there’s a way to win that hockey game. And there’s a way to find that. And I think our players — I know our players started to see that, and see the parts of the game that are within their control. And I know when they were able to evaluate the game, which is a big process of development — the ability to evaluate the game at the level of the players — they were able to evaluate the game right after and feel that the game was determined or not determined by the things they had in their control. They either controlled it or they didn’t, but they had the ability to do it. That’s where you saw our players play with more confidence and conviction. Those are components that are already in place that we’ll keep building on.”
Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.