Jack Eichel failed to pass his physical at Buffalo Sabres Training Camp and was stripped of his captaincy. The team and its franchise player are still at a standstill over possible surgery options.
Eichel, 24 years old, has been sidelined since March because of a herniated disc in his neck. He and his team have been trying to figure out the best way to heal that injury. Eichel has requested a Buffalo trade. To start the 2021-22 NHL seasons, he'll be put on injured reserve.
Sabres General Manager Kevyn Adams stated Thursday that Jack failed his physical yesterday. "To this point Jack isn't willing to go ahead with the fusion surgery our doctors suggest. We will continue to look for solutions.
Eichel is currently in the fourth year on an eight-year contract worth $80 million. This is Eichel's last season before the next summer, when a complete no-movement clause will be in effect.
The Sabres chose non-surgical rehabilitation after Eichel was diagnosed with an injury. However, their medical specialists recommended that Eichel undergo anterior cervical discectomy and fusion in order to relieve his discomfort. Eichel requested a disk replacement procedure, where an artificial disk was placed in his neck. This will allow Eichel to recover faster, have less motion loss and reduce the need for future surgeries. It's not possible to do this on an NHL player, but it is something that's more common.
"We have complete trust in our doctors. They are medical experts. Adams stated that they have been consistent from day one. "They have never wavered from the next step they believe should be taken, and they wouldn't be happy with any other option."
Adams was involved in Eichel trade discussions throughout the offseason. These talks are ongoing. According to the second-year general manger, there is no timetable for Eichel's trade.
Adams stated, "If there is an opportunity to improve our team and it's right for the franchise, then it will be done." Adams said, "But if we had a solution this summer and it seemed sensible, we would have done that." Evidently, that is not the case.
He would not comment on whether Eichel had surgery prior to trading for them.
"Teams need clarity. There wasn't much clarity throughout the summer. He said that there is now clarity. It has played a part in this. [Eichel] is a top-tier franchise player in his prime. While we must move forward as franchises, we cannot compromise on the things we believe."
Adams would not say Eichel has played his final game as a Sabres player, but he was stripped of the captaincy that he held since 2018.
"I spoke with Jack two days ago. I spoke to the team yesterday. This is Jack Eichel's decision. Adams stated that the captain is the heartbeat of your team and that Adams felt the need to make the decision.
Adams stated that Terry and Kim Pegula, Sabres owners, support Eichel's team's handling of the situation. He also keeps in touch with Pat Brisson who Eichel appointed as his agent.
"We will do everything right. We will not change our plans. We won't cave in or give up because of pressure, or because others are telling us to. Adams stated that we will do what is right. "My job is simply to gather all information and do the right thing for the organization," Adams said.