Not that the relationship between Jack Eichel and Buffalo Sabers fans will be good forever. Their alliance promises so much and delivers so little that there will be bitterness for both sides. The #2 pick that Saber sold out didn’t bring them from the wilderness they’ve been trapped in for over a decade now. Sabers can’t rise to the level that Eichel finds himself achieving, and then fights him over how he wants to treat his own body. However, Eichel’s beef is with the organization, not with the fans who have pinned their hopes on a promise he has failed to fulfill for the team, or that the team failed to deliver on him – however you want to express it.
Another thing, which is more important, is that asking for a trade and getting it means you have to move on to bigger and better things. Now you should play another game. You’re in a contender, something you’ve always wanted, something you’ve decided that the original team you joined never got. You have to go above and beyond all of this, which is exactly why players will ask for trades in the first place.
So yes, Eichel could score a hat-trick in his second return to Buffalo. He can wallow in taunts and seduce them afterwards. He might be excited about that. Except that’s probably his crowning achievement in the NHL. That’s all he has. It was the closest Eichel came up with to getting a “big” performance in the NHL.
Because it’s important to remember that last April, when the Knights really needed him to make it to the knockout stages, when they needed him to pick up the rest of the team when the other stars of the team. they get injured, when they need him to be the ONE Sabers drafted him to be and the Knights in exchange, he spits out a badminton the size of a watermelon. Two points in seven games, all important to get into the post-season. He was given his lunch by the likes of Nic Dowd. Last spring was the first time Eichel played late-season games with something on the strings. He inserts his thumb is perpendicular to him butt.
So yeah, he can rub the noses of Sabers fans into it, with his hat-trick in early November. They make Hall-of-Fame cases of what you do during the week. Monday of November, right? He may think he’s overtaken someone for the first time.
But what most Sabres fans know is that Eichel needed this more than they did. This has to stand in for accomplishment. He has to make it a bigger deal than it is. There’s nothing else to put on his mantle. It’s why he has to soak it in so much, because there’s such a void to fill.
Oh, it may change. The Knights look back to their best. Eichel has played well. The rest of the division can’t seem to get out of their own way. Eichel may get to the playoffs for the first time. Maybe he’ll come alive there. That’s all possible in the near future.
But now? He has to exult in kicking a Sabres fanbase that’s still down, even with the promise of this team. He has no choice, because he has nothing else. It’s the closest thing to a true achievement he has. And deep down, he knows he’s as responsible for that as anyone. He has to be a sore winner, still wanting to brag when everyone else has moved on. High school is over, Jack. You’re supposed to have adult problems now.