Few players have received more undue criticism than Jack Eichel this season & last. After the former Sabre's public debacle with ownership/management, his reputation among fans was tarnished. He was seen as an entitled, one-way, self-involved prima donna. However, none of that is really characteristic of Jack Eichel.
The real Jack Eichel is a sharp kid from a humble, blue-collar family in North Chelmsford, MA. His father manages a logistics company, and his mother is a nurse. At every level he's played, Jack has excelled. In the NHL, he was the lone bright spot on a floundering Sabres team under suspect management & ownership. While in Buffalo, the team was never competitive despite high quality production from Eichel. His tenure with the Sabres ended after a lengthy & dramatic standoff between player & team.
Requiring neck surgery, there was a difference in opinion over which surgery Eichel should undergo. Eichel's camp believed the team was putting their interests (getting Jack on the ice as soon as possible) ahead of Jack's. Yet, somehow he wound up being the bad guy, which hardly seems fair.
Through all of this, Eichel got a fresh start when he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. Until last summer, fans all over the NHL were at least partial towards the Golden Knights because of how fun of a story they'd been. However, trading Marc-André Fleury for pennies soured their general standing among fans. So it was only natural that Eichel, a guy lots of people turned on, and the Golden Knights, a team lots of people turned on, joined forces. Collectively, they became the bad guys.
After Eichel started slow (after 10 months on the shelf, by the way) & the Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs, it became popular to criticize Eichel for, if nothing else, having bad vibes & possibly even being washed up. However, what fans may not know is that he suffered a broken thumb. Vegas' President of Hockey Ops appeared on the Bob McCown Podcast & discussed the team's season. When asked about Eichel, he started with his commitment level; incredibly hard working & passionate about greatness. Things we all knew about Eichel. However, after many questioned Eichel's willingness to compete through adversity, it comes out that he played through a broken thumb during the team's playoff push.
Hopefully, this helps change the general perception of Eichel because he's a special player & gets an unfair shake. Vegas, on the other hand, is a team that should be considered as a serious contender going into next season. Obviously, questions loom regarding Robin Lehner, their salary cap situation, etc. but there are options out there.
Should make for an exciting offseason!