Jack Eichel lights up former squad in revenge game for the ages

Ex-Sabres captain Jack Eichel versus the Buffalo crowd is quickly rocketing up the

If Buffalo fans somehow forget this version of Jack Eichel existed, they were just served a cold, hard reminder.

The ex-Sabres captain had a revenge game for the ages Thursday night against his former team, scoring a hat trick — including the game-winner — and adding an assist in the Golden Knights' 7-4 rout in his old barn.

Eichel, who leads the NHL’s top team with 19 points in 15 games, punctuated his second homecoming since being traded last November with an empty net goal, and a cheeky wave to the crowd following the insurance goal.

The second overall selection in the 2015 draft had plenty of fun at Sabres fans’ expense throughout the evening.

After getting on the board earlier in the third period, Eichel acknowledged the Sabres faithful with his arm spread wide, beckoning them as if to ask what they thought of him now.

The growing rivalry between Eichel and his former team has been brewing for a while now. Back in Buffalo last March to face his old squad for the first time, Eichel was booed relentlessly as a 3-1 Sabres win spoiled his return.

More notable, however, were Eichel’s comments post-game, which ruffled plenty of feathers across upstate New York.

"I'm pretty happy it's over, just move on," Eichel said following that Vegas loss. "It was about the loudest I've heard this place ever. Really. It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game.”

"It’s not an easy game to play in by any means, so I’m not going to stand here and act like it was," he later added. "I’m pretty happy it’s over, and move on."

Eichel, the former lottery pick who was once revered as the Sabres' potential saviour, saw his relationship with the team crumble last season following a dispute regarding his health, specifically a contentious disagreement over a treatment path for Eichel's ailing neck which required surgery.

The Sabres preferred an anterior cervical discectomy fusion, while Eichel and his representatives preferred an artificial disk replacement procedure — which had never been performed on an NHL player, hence the disconnect.

Eichel eventually underwent the artificial disk replacement, which doctors said would be better for him presently as well as later in life, in November following his trade to the Golden Knights.

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