Jack Eichel takes jab at Sabres fans in return to Buffalo

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Jack Eichel took a playful dig at Sabres fans after his return to Buffalo on Thursday.
Jack Eichel took a playful dig at Sabres fans after his return to Buffalo on Thursday.

Jack Eichel made his return to Buffalo one to remember, but not until after the final whistle.

The Vegas Golden Knights forward left Keybank Center with zero points as the supposed contenders succumbed to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Thursday. While the result was hilarious on its own, considering Buffalo is suffering through another season only wanting to win the draft lottery, Eichel’s response to the loud crowd of booing fans was even more so.

“This is the loudest I’ve heard this place ever,” Eichel said after the game. “It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game.”

The star center took a step back from digging completely into Sabres fans to give credit to at least the small amount who were supportive of his move, before taking a full-forced leap at the critics.

“It was a nice tribute. There were plenty of people here that were supporting me and there were plenty of people here booing me. They must just be booing me because they wish I was still here," he said. "It is what it is, I’m not the first player to deal with it – so just move on, and it was a tough game. …It’s emotional. It’s tough. It’s not easy by any means. I think I maybe underestimated the way I would feel.”

The hypothetical miscalculation of his emotions heading into this reunion might have played a factor on the ice. With his goose eggs on the stat sheet, Eichel also was a minus-1 with just two shots on goal.

In some weird karmic way, the two players who were the main part of the return for Buffalo – hot prospect Peyton Krebs and reliable winger Alex Tuch – both scored on Thursday. If there was just one game needed to justify the trade for Sabres fans, having the result go in your favour with Eichel being shutout and the two newly acquired players notching some goals is simply perfect.

Despite the very public negotiation between the Sabres and Eichel regarding his choice of neck surgery, which led to his eventual trade, the 25-year-old center had only good things to say about his former city and the organization.

“No bitterness,” Eichel said Wednesday. “None whatsoever. I had a phenomenal time here in Buffalo. I lived out a childhood dream playing my first NHL game. The organization and city was nothing but great to me and my family. There’s no bitterness whatsoever.”

Since the recovery of his surgery, Eichel has three goals and seven points in 11 games for the Golden Knights, who sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

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